2002 – Towards a Healthy, Working River Murray

D. J. Dole, D. Dreverman and A. J. McLeod

The Murray-Darling Basin Commission is embarking on an ambitious project directed towards repairing the environmental damage to the River Murray, caused by a century of human intervention. Today the River Murray is one of the more highly regulated rivers in the world, with only a 27% natural annual median flow to the sea.

In April 2002 the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council approved, in–principle, a program of structural works from Dartmouth Dam to the Murray Mouth, including the lower Darling downstream from the Menindee Lakes. The initial phase is estimated to cost $150 million over 7 years. At the same time the Council has authorised studies of the environmental, social and economic impacts of 3 scenarios involving recovery of 350 GL, 750 GL and 1500 GL per year from existing uses, for reallocation to the environment.

This paper describes some of the key projects in the portfolio of works under consideration, including:

  • Fishways;
  • Mitigation of thermal impacts below storages;
  • Weir strengthening;
  • River management and erosion prevention;
  • Improvements at Murray Mouth; and
  • Improved management of connectivity of river with various forests and wetlands.

The paper also outlines the extensive stakeholder consultation and community engagement processes which are fundamental to the success of the project, as well as the various means adopted to enhance the links between scientists and engineers involved in the project.

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