Feedback on our vision for The Coorong

Now Closed

This online engagement was hosted on YourSAy from 23 August to 31 October 2019. Find out more about the consultation process. Below is a record of the engagement.

Our vision is that The Coorong should be a healthy, productive and resilient wetland system that maintains its international significance.

This would include:

  • Filamentous green algae is reduced to manageable levels, allowing for expanded distribution and improved health of aquatic plant meadows.
  • Fish and bird communities are healthy and thriving.
  • Water quality and environmental outcomes improve as a result of optimised water delivery to the Coorong.

Do you think this is the right vision for managing the Coorong for ecological health?  

Download and read the Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin Action Plan and join in the conversation below.

Comments closed

Gerhard (Gary) Holzinger

26 Oct 2019

I believe there is no miracle cure for the ailing Coorong. One would have to say that fresh water is in short supply so flushing the Coorong with fresh water is not an option. I think a massive inflow of sea water to flush the stagnant Coorong and clear the choked Murray Mouth is the solution. My proposal would allow for this to happen. The piped inflows could then be used to generate electrical energy which in turn could be used to power a desalination plant. Desalinated water could then be used to reduce salinity in the Coorong or be pumped to the lakes for alternative uses

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > Gerhard (Gary) Holzinger

28 Oct 2019

Hello Gerhard,
interesting ideas here. You may have already filled our survey where infrastructure ideas can be expressed. However your proposal is noted with thanks.

Julie Halls

24 Oct 2019

The Coorong will never recover to its original state until the flow (underground soakage) from the Grampians (Vic) is restored.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > Julie Halls

25 Oct 2019

Hello Julie. Thanks for joining in.

Allan Taylor

16 Oct 2019

It seems to me that this "Conservation" about plans for the Coorong is a deliberate diversion by the SA Government to forstall criticism of their mismanagement of the Lower Lakes for decades, since the foolish building of the Barrages in 1940. Anybody with half a brain can see that what you are dealing with is an estuarine system composed of the Lower Lakes, Alexandrina and Albert, and the mouth of the Murray lies at Wellington where the river enters Lake Alexandrina. The SA Governments idea (for decades) that the river mouth is at the ocean front is a nonsense, as is the expensive dredging to maintain river flows. To try and maintain Lake Alexandrina as a fresh water lake is ridiculous, an almost criminal idea, considering the loss by evaporation of fresh water, originating as "environmental flows" that could be used for irrigation or domestically, and as drinking water. Instead of using valuable fresh river water to fill Lake Alexandrina with "environmental flows" why not use the adjacent INFINITE SUPPLY of sea water available in the Great Southern Ocean??? and restore the Lower Lakes to the original estuarine system. Such a plan has been devised Ron Pike (qv). The Barrages must be removed and Loch Zero constructed at Wellington to preserve the fresh water supply for Adelaide and also the Lower Lakes communities, by pipeline or canal. I see that others agree with this development viz., Peter Webb, Glynis Taylor, Kent Smith, and John Newlands. Such a move would allow the development of a valuable seawater fishery, and hopefully kill all the CARP in the lake , which is a noxious fish.
This concern about the future of the Coorong is nothing but a "red herring" to cover up decades of SA mismangement of the Lower Lakes estuarine system. I hope I have been of some help. Please refer to Ron Pike's plan for the region, instead of the MDBasin Plan, and that of the SA Government.
Regards from Allan Taylor PhD (Penn State), MSc, BCA, FGA

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > Allan Taylor

17 Oct 2019

Hello Allan, thanks for joining in. Your views are helpful as they highlight the complexity of views we are hearing in our consultations to get the Coorong back on track for a healthy resilient future. We appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

Rob England

14 Oct 2019

I have had a long term interest in the health of the Coorong, including researching and writing "The Cry of the Coorong" - a History of Water Flows to the Coorong from the SE of SA - which helped cause the removal of the ban on inflows to the Coorong, recognition of the fresh to estuarine condition prior to white settlement, and which lead to the re-instatement of SE inflows via Salt Creek, and reduction of the Hyper saline target levels for the South Lagoon. I fly and photograph the lower lakes, Murray Mouth, and length of the Coorong twice a week every week (weather permitting), and have done so for the past 6 years, and note the rapid expansion of the coral bommies in number and size, and changes in sand bars and wave action erosion on the sea-ward side of the Young Husband Peninsula. I note the low number of open barrage gates allowing restricted flows into the Coorong from the lakes, other blocked historic inflow points south of Pelican Point, and lament that the mooted connector from Lake Albert to the Coorong has not been constructed to put fresh water deep into the Coorong to help re-instate historical salinity levels. This connector would also create a through-flow of fresh water from Lake Alexandrina into Lake Albert via Narrung, and would go a long way in lowering the salinities of Lake Albert. Unfortunately, continually rising sea levels will progressively flood the Coorong with sea water later this century, and tidal inflows of sea water will bring in huge amounts of sand which will clog the estuary. Potential long term benefits to the Coorong environment and wildlife associated with construction of the connector will be a massive environmental opportunity missed, but sea level rise will negate the need to ever construct it, and save the future need to construct controls to stop the sea water from running back up the connector into Lake Albert.
Commentators suggesting that the barrages should be removed to allow sea water to replace the current river flows into the lakes need to be reminded that this will not re-create something as it was, because the sea-water inflows will also bring in vast quantities of choking sand, and there will not be the strong historic river flows required to take it out again. They also overlook the need for river flows to remove the huge salt load that accumulates in the lower reaches of the river, and the fact that evaporation of sea water will cause the lakes to rapidly become hyper-saline, completely changing their current environmental values.
Rather than removal of the barrages, consideration should be given to raising the height of the barrages to keep encroaching sea levels out for as long as possible, and still allow lake outflows at low tides. Consideration should also be given to how the developing coastal erosion of the fore-dune - initially south of Kingston, but spreading all along the coast as sea levels rise - is to be controlled. The new 400 metre long Kingston rock wall has already incurred further erosion at either end, and will not be a viable long term solution. Unless the world economies implement immediate, and dramatic reductions in the highest levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide that have occurred over the past million years, global warming, ocean warming and expansion, and ice melt will combine to cause coastal problems on an enormous scale, and I doubt that any action can be taken now - even if governments were prepared to recognise the science - that will completely avoid the ocean level rises that we have already initiated by our releases of carbon dioxide. I suggest that anyone disputing the accuracy of these predictions should look at the interpretation of the 3,000 metres of Ice cores taken in Antarctica, and the graphs of the information gleaned. Simply put, for most of the last 800,000 years, carbon dioxide levels moved in a range between 175 and 300 parts per million (ppm), and each spike and fall in levels drove a corresponding rise and fall in temperatures of a maximum of 7 degreees C above and below the mean. In the last 200 years - corresponding with the Industrial Revolution - carbon dioxide levels have spiked to 415ppm. That is 115ppm higher than it has ever gone over the past 800,000 years. No-one knows how high that is going to drive temperatures and sea levels, but it gives no reason for optimism. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose 40ppm in the last 19 years, and the trend line of current emission rates indicate it will rise by at least that much again before 2050, when the Government is aiming at a target of halving our current level of emissions. Hardly cuts the mustard does it! Sorry for the bleak picture!

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > Rob England

15 Oct 2019

Hello Rob,
Your time spent to share your data and thoughts is appreciated. Bleak or not, it is about the sharing for discussion and you have a lot to share. I hope you continue to engage with us as the project progresses. Thank you.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin

11 Oct 2019

Terrific Emily. Thank you.

Emily Jenke

11 Oct 2019

I think the vision could be strengthened by making it very clear that its for the "Long term". I also would love to see it in some way acknowledge the importance of the system to "life" - humans and natural systems, and especially to the "life" of the Murray Darling Basin River System/the importance of the health at the end of the system. "Resilience" is also an important concept that we need to be aspiring to for the Coorong - as enabling the system to be resilient will give it the best chance of adapting to a changing climate.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > Emily Jenke

11 Oct 2019

Hello Emily
Good to hear your thoughts on the vision and how you would like it modified to be clear it covers what you suggest. If you want to have a go at actually wording this, feel free to fill this item in the 10 question survey we have on this site. Regardless, your thoughts are noted. It is welcomed that you mention the importance of the system to 'life' including the life of the Murray Darling Basin River System. This is reflected in the title of the project - Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin and the investment under the project is "to get the Coorong back on track for a healthy, resilient future for the Coorong, Murray Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth region and the communities that call it home." You seem on-board with the action plan aims and we look forward to your ongoing engagement. With Thanks

Emily Jenke > Emily Jenke

11 Oct 2019

yeah that all sounds good - will do the survey in coming days and I will have a go at some wording!

peter webb

18 Sep 2019

I think it is essential for the health of the Coorong and Lower lakes to return it to some sort of pre settlement form. A weir should be built at Wellington and raised 0.5 to 1 metre. Natural tidal response will return to the Lakes, revitalizing the area opening up new fish spawning areas. Upstream fresh water will be retained and naturally returned to the Lower Lakes when the River is flowing well. Farmers that pump from the Lower Lakes (Langhorne CK etc) will get a new pipeline from above the new Weir at Wellington. The problem of keeping sufficient water in the lakes is solved. Fresh water for irrigation still available upstream of Wellington. 100's of megalitres of water saved as the result of reduced evaporation over the lakes. Win all round.
To John Newlands I am not sure where you are from, but my passport says I am an AUSTRALIAN We are all in this together.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > peter webb

18 Sep 2019

Hello Peter. Welcome to the discussion.

John Newlands

18 Sep 2019

I have the impression that some are not listening to what farmers are saying particularly in the Darling sub-catchment. It looks like SA is playing landscape gardening with ornamental ponds while upstream farmers are losing their livelihoods. The Coorong and lower lakes will be submerged by seawater in decades to come. The shoreline will move inland and the salinity will be uniform. Alternatively the barrages could be raised 2 metres and the Coorong could have its own desalination plant to keep it the way some want. I suspect this issue will be front page one day. SA seems to have a big sense of entitlement.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > John Newlands

18 Sep 2019

Hello John, thank you for joining in again. Climate change is being considered as part of the Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin Action Plan that contains the short, medium and long-term on-ground works, scientific trials and investigations, management tools and infrastructure activities to get the Coorong back on track for the future. You may be interested to read the frequently asked questions response. Go to the Department of Environment website
Let us know if you have any issues with access to it.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > John Newlands

18 Sep 2019

Incase the link referred to above is not active for you, please copy and paste the following address in your browser https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/topics/river-murray
Here you will find frequently asked questions in topic headings and other River Murray related current references.

Lee Williams

14 Sep 2019

I am a bit confused? Basin plan. SE drains. how far south/east. how low do we want the SE water reserves? "the green triangle" and doesn't it need to rain?
I am concerned there is always plans, how about evaluations, . With all the potential barrage, Murray mouth and pipeline options, new SE drains? will they all be tried/untested. What then? There are many outstanding structures, upgrades, pest control, already needing a maintenance backlog to be done and isn't NO MONEY . Climate change? yep, a farmer commented to me about his great new drain, and all his compensation, and then said, it better rain soon, we are getting a bit desperate, its pretty dry, I think he was disappointed he wouldn't be able to crop his wetland?? Beans and Barley vs Ducks and swans, unfortunately neither this year. Healthy? Messing around and irreversibly changing a landscape, years ago farmers cleared land, it was part of the rules of ownership, we know how that worked out. I think the Coorong is in trouble. I think a whole lot of other landscapes are as well, or will be if this all continues without rigorous evaluation.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > Lee Williams

15 Sep 2019

Hello Lee, good to hear from you. Some of the things you mention are being actioned in various ways in recognition that things need to be done. You have a chance to hear about those things and what is planned to be progressed with community input in our October Project Coorong Community Discussions at 5 locations between Goolwa and Robe. I invite you to have a look at the Community Discussions Sessions tab in the header bar of this page and see if you can come along. I expect it could give you hope that Project Coorong within which the Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin program sits is doing many positive things with much more to come. Thankyou for commenting.

Pip Rasenberg

03 Sep 2019

I would like to see less engineering of our natural systems and where possible use natural fill and spill systems come back into favour , I have always been opposed to breaking through calcrete layers separating highly saline water from fresh water which goes on to contaminate some of our wonderful large wetland systems in the Upper South East in particular. We have always know there is very little fall in the landscape but many of our large systems eg West Avenue system have the potential to hold and filter many GL of water if left to fill and spill in a timely manner. it is the most sustainable way to filter water especially removing agricultural nutrients . Open channels simply deliver water quickly but also deliver undesirable contaminates that go on to cause algal blooms etc. I believe in time the new agreement in the Tilley swamp area will prove a huge benefit for water quality . More research needs to be done where large historic wetlands with healthy aquatic plants have remained mostly intact.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > Pip Rasenberg

04 Sep 2019

Hello Pip, thankyou for commenting. What is it about the Tilley Agreement that you think will work so well? In the Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin action plan there are many non engineering activities proposed and you seem knowledgeable to give us valuable comments. Hearing the community voice on the action plan is so important so we understand what proposals and ideas the entire community has as we aim to improve the current and future ecological status of the Coorong. If you click on the Get Involved button above, your thoughts on our proposals can be captured and you will be notified when we do further consultation on our proposals. I look forward to hearing more from you.

Pip Rasenberg > Pip Rasenberg

04 Sep 2019

Historically Tilley Swamp watercourse adjoining the Tilley Swamp CP was a large natural wetland later developed for agriculture. As an old floodplain it was prone to constant flooding , the new agreement has the default position of the SEFR project (new Drain to Coorong) flooding over 4,000HA ( rather than be pushed down a drain) when the water is not required urgently for the Coorong. Like all old natural wetlands the aquatic plants will re establish themselves quickly and filter unwanted nutrients along the way before entering the Coorong , unlike drains which deliver whatever is in the flow . I have no issue with fresh surface water drains but dislike deep saline groundwater drains going into once pristine wetlands.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > Pip Rasenberg

04 Sep 2019

Thanks for clarifying Pip. Yes natural wetlands do behave differently and this highlights how important the research is, together with the community voice to guide planning for activities. The Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin action plan covers these two important components with the understanding that each is so important for a successful outcome. The action plan also includes the formation of a Coorong Partnership advisory group to add a further community voice to the consultation we are doing. Your contribution is noted. With thanks.

Glynis Taylor

29 Aug 2019

I'd like to see some detailed scientific work done on removal of or modification of the barrages, and the building of Lock Zero at Wellington and done quickly. With close to 50% of the inflow being lost to evaporation due to the shallowness of the lakes and the vast surface area, it is almost an environmental crime to simply continue with a business as usual approach. While I do question the size of artificially created upstream dams created for irrigation, which must also be subject to high levels of evaporative loss, I believe water lost in the lower lakes must be addressed quickly.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > Glynis Taylor

29 Aug 2019

Hello Glynis, thank you for sharing your thoughts. There does seem to be interest in barrage modification from both you and Kent. I do wonder what other things you may consider worthwhile from the on-ground works and infrastructure investigations in the Action Plan. Take a look at the survey and see if you feel you would like to comment as it seems the main heading items would be of interest to you. It is confidential too. With Thanks

Kent Smith

28 Aug 2019

I totally agree with Johns comments. The greatest thing this (or any government) could do for the Coorong and Lower Lakes and future generations, is to return the Lower Lakes to the natural healthy estuarine system it once was. The barrages are the problem, but if we're worried about removing them due to the impacts on housing and boating on the lakes, I believe they could be re-engineered to open and close via some sort of system of slats, to allow free flow of fresh and ocean water (and Mulloway size fish) in and out of the lakes, for 3 or 4 hours every day at high and low tide. This along with Johns suggestion of a salt barrier weir at Wellington would go a long way towards fixing the problems our forefathers have created at our end of the MDB system. Simply sending more fresh water down to the Lower Lakes and Coorong will not fix the problem. The Lower Lakes are dying because a natural healthy estuary was turned into an inefficient dam. We've destroyed the biodiversity of the original estuary and wetlands system, including the Coorong, by stopping the circular flow of fresh oxygenated sea water in and out of the lakes. The installation of the barrages also destroyed (virtually overnight) what once was arguably one of our biggest Mulloway breeding habitats. Stopping the larger natural tidal flow into and out of the lakes, has also allowed 'Bird Island', in the Coorong near the Murray mouth, to significantly increase in size and become a giant 'plug' seriously restricting sea water flow from the Murray mouth into the Coorong.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > Kent Smith

28 Aug 2019

Hello Kent, thankyou for joining in and your comments. I am sure the team would like to hear your thoughts on the aspects of the Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin Action Plan and particularly you may be interested in the 'Water resource optimisation' and 'On-ground works' components that are in the Plan and the survey linked to the opening page of this site. You may wish to peruse the Action Plan and then offer your comments via the online survey that provides space for your suggestions beyond asking for your opinion on proposed activities. With thanks for your engagement.

Glynis Taylor > Kent Smith

29 Aug 2019

Very well said.

John Newlands

28 Aug 2019

It is disingenuous to conflate the Coorong with the Lower Lakes. It was also hypocritical for SA to criticise upstream Murray water users when Lakes Alexandrina and Albert evaporate 900 GL a year according to some commentators. The barrages were set about 75cm above the 1930 water level but will be overwhelmed by sea level rise this century. Hypersaline sections of the Coorong will then become less so. The barrages should be opened sooner to allow the lakes to become as salty as the sea. A salt barrier weir should be built at the end of the Murray channel near Wellington with a marked navigation channel to Goolwa. The reduced need to top up lower lakes evaporation should free up more water for upstream users, not only irrigators but Adelaide and Whyalla as well.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > John Newlands

28 Aug 2019

Hello John,
Thanks for expressing your thoughts. It seems you are not new to the topics you cover about the Coorong and salinity levels. I expect you would also find it interesting to read what we ask in our Survey on this site covering the actions proposed. I invite you to read the questions in the survey and consider offering your point of view on the Action Plan content. Once again thankyou for engaging.

Glynis Taylor > John Newlands

29 Aug 2019

Well said.

Robert Whinnen

27 Aug 2019

There should be a mosaic of wetlands created in the South East reducing the amount of water that runs directly to the sea. The wetlands can greatly reduce the nitrogen and phosphates loads in the water and clean water be directed into the South lagoon via Salt creek. More wetlands should be opened up to recreational duck hunting because they ( the duck hunters) have proven their wholehearted commitment to preserving and enhancing our valuable wetland environments. Duck hunters are well able to manage sustainable hunting and contribute a great deal through their organisations providing funding and manpower for conservation and rehabilitation projects. There are many positive examples of such symbiotic relationship benefits here in Australia and throughout the world. It is time for small minded prejudices to stop! Deal with facts, not populism.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > Robert Whinnen

27 Aug 2019

Hello Robert, good to hear your thoughts and I appreciate your time. I can see that you are interested in organisations contributing resources for conservation and rehabilitation. In our survey we ask about ways that responders would like to be involved in future Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin action plan initiatives. It appears you will have valuable thoughts on the short, medium and longer term activities that it contains, so if I may encourage you to fill this short survey in and offer your views. I welcome you to continue to the survey on this site.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin

23 Aug 2019

Hello, welcome to the discussion. How could we improve on our vision for the Coorong? What are your ideas and suggestions for a future vision for this iconic site?