What are your views on the options to be investigated and considered to improve the Coorong’s long-term health?

Now Closed

This online engagement was hosted on YourSAy from 7 July to 26 July 2020. Find out more about the consultation process. Below is a record of the engagement.


​Help identify which of the infrastructure options being considered to improve the Coorong’s long-term health will progress to detailed feasibility investigations and potentially implementation.

You can help short-list which projects are investigated in detail by considering the following resources:

To have your say, please comment below.

Please note: Your submissions may be made publicly available unless you indicate on the submission that you wish for these to remain confidential. Please also note that any responses that are made on a confidential basis may still be subject to access under Freedom of Information laws.

Comments closed

Lee Williams

26 Jul 2020

I do not agree with using water from the SE drain scheme, without a full evaluation of the current drains, outcomes met, for benefit of ALL landholders, and an increase in budget given, to fix all the enduring backlog of maintenance for structures and monitoring equipment. An evaluation might show that the water is not there as is suggested, and works done are actually damaging the environment that has many kms of drains. Why drain a wetland, to fill another wetland further away, to fix a problem to then also expect that water flow to go to the Coorong. Where are the checks and balances, and who will pay?? Climate change?? Why dewater the SE.

Lee Williams > Lee Williams

26 Jul 2020

addit. who makes these decisions, that we all have to live with, where is the accountablility?? We should be very respectful of our water, we can't live without it!!

Pip Rasenberg

25 Jul 2020

Option 4 discussion on the webinar - augmentation of SE flows , talked about how to deliver water from drain K to the Coorong a brief comment was made for that water to go via West Avenue but it was not committed to paper as a dot point. My comments will focus on us learning from the past and I will begin by saying West Avenue wetlands historically had some of the highest biodiversity scores of any wetlands not only in the USE but the LSE as well pre 2010. West Ave was dewatered significantly and its relatively pristine environment changed forever after deep saline groundwater drains were installed in 2010. A number of landowners fought a hard battle with support of many environmentalists,in the end to no avail. I personally started talking water samples two years before the drains were built and was completely opposed to deep groundwater drains and especially the Bund drain designed for the sole purpose of delivering fresh environmental flows to the award winning Parrakie wetlands and other significant wetlands in W/A as within 50 metres of the proposed Bund drain there were two piezometers both measuring over 23,000 EC. Every person from the top down was notified of our concern that if the calcrete layer was fractured to build the bund drain the water quality would be extremely saline and contaminate the W /A wetlands some 5,000 HA. It made no difference we were not qualified to make those assertions and the ground was fractured for some 5 plus kilometres and the first large amount of water delivered via the Bund drain was 25,000 EC into wetlands with historic EC well under 5,000. It was the instant demise of the last northern known population of Southern Bell frogs and many native fish species and forever changed the values of W/A ecology. Many of the wetlands have never recovered or received water since 2010 which is a travesty.

If and only if option no 4 goes ahead I will be a strong vocal proponent in the community for drain K water to follow as close as possible to its historic flow path from East Ave to West Avenue rather than divert many kilometres to Blackford and Taratap drain. West Avenue could use existing fill and spill wetlands to filter many unwanted nutrients before rejoining the Tilley swamp drain further north.
Money has been spent upgrading the Bakers Range drain to take more flows from the south to northern wetlands, this water was given to W/A by Environment Minister Weatherill as a condition to increase lost flows expected after deep drainage for West Avenue. In 2018 that was taken away , so yes I am not happy with constant promises only to be let down by new decisions and yet more engineering only solutions.
We have the perfect landscape to continue a fill and spill system with natural filtration as it always was, none of those wetlands were ever developed the southern ones in W /A Park Hill, Parrakie and Snuggery wetlands approx 5,000HA were amazing and very healthy.

It is time to rethink the constant idea that the only solution is to engineer well designed fast flowing highly saline drains with no filtration through large tracks of once amazing wetlands to try and benefit a huge northern system under great stress and no firm idea of what is causing its seemingly endless issues.
Perhaps it is time to get a bunch of the best ecologists together and brainstorm opportunities to support the health of the Coorong and other on route wetlands before we continue on the same path we have taken in the last 20 years.

I may not be qualified in the field of wetland management but for over 20 years I have been on almost every water/ wetland/ environmental Board or Committee including the USEDSFM Board so I have enough experience to see the good the bad and the ugly decisions we have made over time . The one thing I do know is most people are too young to remember how fresh many of our amazing wetlands were and the huge changes we have made to our landscapes with large terrestrial changes in such a short time with deep saline ground water drains.
I have no issue with well managed fresh surface water drains through some of the most productive farming land in South Australia, it has made us the envy of many other agricultural areas.

We are in a drying climate and the river Murray will never return water we once had for the Coorong that does not mean we have to take it from other pristine environments that need to be enhanced especially along the coast much father south and remain healthy and viable for shore birds and will ultimately help the Coorong. I don’t believe robbing Peter to pay Paul will in the long run solve our problems. We may have to consider a drying out phase just like many of our wetlands have which appear to bounce back extremely well with the right conditions and water quality over the millennia. I would like these comments to be taken as my submission as well.

Alistair Rowland

24 Jul 2020

I believe the lower murray system should be involved in the modelling for the murray darling scheme. There should be some consideration to the south east drainage scheme as well.

Denys Smith

19 Jul 2020

The West Lakes option is tried and trusted. We should abandon false hope of a Coorong South fresh water lagoon and use seawater circulation to develop an immense fish breeding area, some of which could even be set aside as a "no take" zone. No building on the sand dunes though.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > Denys Smith

23 Jul 2020

Thank you for your feedback Denys, Option 7 explores the potential for a permanent connection between the Southern Ocean and Coorong South Lagoon, which could look similar to the West Lakes system. As part of the detailed feasibility investigations, we will investigate possible concept/construction designs and consider the benefits and impacts of these designs on the Coorong environment. While these are underway, we will continue to report back on these investigations.

cliff Hignett

17 Jul 2020

So far, coorong degradation has been viewed as an environmental problem with the aim of 'restoring' the coorong to some condition it had prior to the millennium drought. If you start looking at solutions like the 'westlakes' option - then there is some possibility of not only restoring the coorong to its 1950's condition (which was a highly productive waterway), but even going further (like westlakes) and creating a full saline esturine production system. The water off the coast is highly fertile, but there are no sheltered fish breeding areas. If the coorong had a good circulation system it could become the largest fish breeding area in the state - and we have a much needed new industry for the upper SE. Talk to the inland fishing industry - what could a fish farm 50km long and 5km wide produce?
NOTE Little lake george and lake george (near Beachport) are dry most years. Within a decade, sea level rise will convert them into an environment similar to the current southern Coorong lakes ie a stinking saline swamp. A Westlakes style sea water circulation system would also convert them into a productive saline eco system.
Why not look at BOTH these problems as a state development issue rather than an environmental one. At least , if it is 'development' then any costs are easily recovered. (I have no idea how the Narungga people would view this idea - but at least they could be asked. )
I AM sure the seals would love it - but thats a different problem.

cliff Hignett

14 Jul 2020

Many of the options under discussion (and those excluded from discussion) rely on the assumption that climate change has reached some sort of limit and that 'environmental' flows out of the River Murray and into the lakes and on to the Coorong will continue into the future. There is no scientific basis for this assumption. The science says that winter / spring rainfall in both the Murray darling basin (MDB) and across south east Australia was pretty much constant between 1850 and 1960. In 1960 it began to decrease at around 5% per year and continues to do so. Any valid plan for the future of the Coorong MUST include the possibility that water will NOT be available from the MDB or from the South East Drainage Scheme. For example : are option 1A and 1B valid if there is only tidal flow? Option 2 (lake albert connector ) will be useless when lake albert returns to millenium drought condition. Option 3 may still have value as circulation is driven by wind and tide. Option 4 (reflows project) useless - Flows from all the SE drains have been decreasing since 1990. Option 5 - might work. Option 6 and 7 might work - note these do not rely of continuing fresh water supplies. Option 8 relies on the MDB. Option 9 Maybe. Option 10. A bit of a hotch potch of ideas, with (obviously) no engineering analysis, but the only one which will continue to work if rainfall continues to decrease. This is also the only idea with a highly successful precedent in SA. I am old enough to remember when Westlakes was a stinking hypersaline swamp - a simple tidal pump at the south end converted it into both valuable real estate, and a healthy, productive (sea water) ecosystem. Note that it does not need any ongoing energy supply. Why is the 'Westlakes' option not on the table ????

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > cliff Hignett

16 Jul 2020

Hi Cliff
Thank you for your feedback on the current list of options. As part of the detailed feasibility investigations undertaken on the short-listed options (the next step in this project), each option will be assessed against future climate change scenarios, including decreasing rainfall and increasing sea-levels.
Regarding the potential to investigate a West Lakes styled option, Option 7 (a permanent connection between the Southern Ocean and the Coorong South Lagoon) is possibly an option that closely resembles the West Lakes system. If this option is short-listed, passive variations (not requiring an energy supply) like West Lakes will also be considered.

Katja Hogendoorn

14 Jul 2020

For many of the options, the costs, environmental impacts and benefits are unclear, especially for the Southern Coorong.
The government needs to put forward complete evaluations of the options, then ask people to decide, not ask their opinion based on incomplete information.

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > Katja Hogendoorn

16 Jul 2020

Hi Katja
Thank you for your feedback. We acknowledge that we currently do not have all the answers and knowledge for each of the options. Following the short-listing process, detailed investigations including extensive evaluations on the environmental impacts and benefits and costs/benefit analysis will be undertaken for each option. DEW is committed to involving community in every step of the process to determine the best options to improve the long-term ecological health of the Coorong. This includes the short-listing phase and the detailed feasibility investigations and final decision.

Ben Gericke

07 Jul 2020

After lightly reading through the paper and to see that option 1b is even being discussed is absurd. The fact there is not one but two perfect examples 90 south miles of what will happen. A complete waste of taxpayers/ratepayers money. It it will only create larger problems in the future. South Australia already has enough white elephants to worry about. You want to do something positive for the coorong start by culling the seal population

Government Agency

Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin > Ben Gericke

10 Jul 2020

Hi Ben, thank you for your input. If you have not already done so, please take the opportunity to fill out the survey. You might also like to attend one of our webinars or workshops, where these options will be discussed further. You can find the registration links and the survey here on our web page the healthy coorong website