Last Updated 25 May 2020

Analysing Salinity In The River Murray Environmental Sciences Essay

Category Environment, science
Essay type Research
Words 3508 (14 pages)
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The Murray River is one of the biggest rivers in Australia and ps three provinces: Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. The entire length is 2756 kilometers and has 4 major dikes and 16 storage weirs and 15 navigable locks. The Murray River is a topographic point for a big scope sum of species such as birds, wetland birds, fishes and floras.

Today, there are more menaces to the river particularly to the quality of the H2O in Murray River. The low quality of H2O will act upon many industries and human being that rely on the river Murray. One index of H2O quality is the salt degree in the H2O. The salt degree is really high in most portion of the river, particularly in the Coorong, Lower lakes and Murray Mouth. The lessening in H2O flows to these countries caused addition in salt degree which reduces the H2O quality of the river. Still, the salt degree fluctuates at a really short clip because it is being influenced by the flows from up watercourse and the tidal moving ridge.

The Living Murray Program ( LMP ) is a response plan to the environmental jobs in the Murray River. It aims to presenting back the H2O into the river to accomplish an environmentally healthier river system that benefits all Australian. The plan was established in 2002 and the first plan was implemented in 2004 to delivered back 5000GL of H2O to the Murray River to profit workss, animate beings and Australian along the river. It was besides aims to better the environmental public presentation of six topographic points that designated as icon sites due to their high ecological and cultural values. The plan provides H2O to retaining, retrieving and bettering the ecosystems, home grounds and species of vegetations and zoologies in these sites.

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Among all icon sites, The Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth have the highest salt degree. The LMP and other related plans under the LMP attempt to work out the jobs. This essay critiques the LMP and related plans on their effort to cut down the salt degree in Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth countries. This essay besides describes the benefits, strengths and failings of the LMP regrading salt issues.

The River Murray and the Murray-Darling Basin

The Murray-Darling Basin ( MDB ) covers the country of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia. The rivers provide services for the 2.7 million people ( Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2007 ) . The MDB has a saline status and due to human activities in the last two decennaries through irrigation and dike, the salt degree has been increasing significantly. This status is non a good status for agribusiness, H2O supplies and environment ( Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2000 ) .

The increasing degree of salt in the Murray River is caused by some alterations on the H2O direction system. Naturally, the Murray River is flown by high degree of salt and the natural barrier which came from the form of the Murray River H2O flows prevent the belowground flows to make the sea a create salty deposit bed beneath the upper current which create high degree of salt within the river of course. However, alterations like higher rate of irrigation and, clearance of new land of agricultural industry had accelerated the degree of salt in the river and increasing it significantly ( Quiggin, 1988 ) .

Table 1. Salt degrees in the River Murray

Murray-Darling Basin Salting. Metric tons of salt mobilised to come up in each State for selected old ages.
















Naval special warfare










Murray-Darling Basin Salting. Annual entire salt mobilization in metric tons for selected old ages.











( beginning: MDBMC, 1987 )

Due to increasing degree of salt in the Murray River H2O, species which of course live with Murray River as their natural home ground will bit by bit extinct since their organ could non accommodate with high degree of salt ( Nielsen et al. 2003 ) . While some types of plantation and carnal manage to set their variety meats to the increasing degree of salt, the impact is still important and even makes their lives shortened. In add-on, substructure nearby the salty river can be easy damaged and the quality of land, particularly for agricultural intents will dramatically diminish which caused the doomed of productive land.

If authorities continues their undertaking to pull off the salt degree in the Murray River by pumping the river H2O and turn up it in an country where it so vaporize and infiltrate into the land will profit by making a healthy Murray flood-plain flora and promote 135 species of birds to populate in the country ( Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2003 ) .

The Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth

The H2O quality in Coorong country determine the H2O quality of its environing countries, particularly in four territory parts of chief channel of the lower Murray, the lower Lake Alexandria and Lake Albert, the Northern Lagoon of the Coorong and the Southern Lagoon of the Coorong. The high value of Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth have been doing these countries became iconic sites.

Naturally, the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth have a high degree of salt because of the H2O flows to the country is already low both in quality and measure. These countries are located in the down watercourse at the very terminal of the Murray River system. There are 593 Gatess and 5 bombardments in the Coorong built in 1035 and 1940 to protect the Coorong from the Lower Lakes. The H2O flow from the upstream influence the H2O in the Coorong.

The Murray Mouth, Coorong and Lower lakes is an country of 140.000 hectares. This country is of import because it is a native topographic point for several species of birds, fish and floras and one of the biggest wetland sites that provide an economic sciences value through its fish. Furthermore, Coorong that has 140 kilometer length is one of the icon sites for waterfowls. Environmental aims delivered in this country through EWMP were making a healthier Coorong and Lower Lakes countries ; pull offing the transition through Murray Mouth ; supplying best status for fish spawning and increasing wading birds home ground in Lower Lakes. The biggest aims in this country is to cut down the salt degree and manage H2O degree fluctuation in Murray Mouth, Coorong and Lower Lakes by constructing Gatess that installed on selected bombardments. The dredging plan in the Murray oral cavity besides one of the efforts to do the Murray Mouth environmentally healthier.

Figure 1. Murray Mouth, Coorong and Lower Lakes ( Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2008 ) .

The Living Murray Program

The Living Murray Program ( TLMP ) is a Response plan to the environmental debasement in Murray River system. Established in mid 2002 by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council ( MDBMC ) , it aimed to pull off the H2O flow to run into the appropriate degree to keep the healthy status of the river. The plan was besides set to protect the agricultural concern, the communities, natural and cultural values along the Basin ( Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2004 ) .

Furthermore, in 2003, The MDBMC decided to better environmental benefit in six countries include Murray Mouth, Coorong and Lower Lakes. The marks were: recovery of up to an estimated norm of 500GL/ twelvemonth of H2O ; bettering environmental benefits for all countries on the $ 150 million ; bettering the direction capacity ; constitution of autochthonal partnership and farther work to better the environmental benefit from the six designated countries. The countries were chosen because of their importance on national, regional and international ecological system ; the hazards they face and the economic sciences and cultural values they have ( Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2004 ) .

The Environmental Works and Measure Program ( EWMP ) is a long term plan tallies from 2003 to 2011 as an built-in portion of the Living Murray Program. In October 2002, the EWMP had dredging plan in the Murray Mouth to keep and reconstruct the environmental wellness in Coorong and Lower Lakes. This plan was successful in keeping an gap in drouth in 2003 and 2004 ( Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2004 ) .

There were several menaces to the wellness of Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth in footings of salt degree: terrible drouth cause low flows of H2O or no flow at all through the bombardments ; the average one-year flow is 27 % under natural status ; sudden passage between saline and fresh water at the bombardments and cut down interaction between sea and river, including that the Murray oral cavity is at hazard of closing on norm in one twelvemonth in three.

The Actions of EWMP were: making of a new `` River Murray estuary environmental allotment '' of about 180GL in every twelvemonth ; Target flushing of oral cavity in accomplishing flows go throughing Barrages in summer and fall in dry old ages ; bettering greater control of the Barrages and triping many species to bread during wet old ages.

Between 2003-2011, Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation in South Australia was running a plan to remotely operates the Barrages Gatess. The aims was to heightening the environmental wellness of the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth by increasing the flexibleness of control of bombardments releases at selected locations and cut downing the salt fluctuation and H2O degree fluctuation and bettering connectivity between the sea and the Coorong. This undertaking is an built-in portion of the LMP since the results were reported to the Murray Management Plan.

The Restoration and sweetening dredging in the Murray oral cavity was besides aimed to increase the environmental wellness of the Coorong and Lower Lakes. The plan is running from 2004 and estimated to be finished in 2011. The results are installing of 10 remotely operated Gatess at the Tauwitchere Barrage ; remotely operated Gatess will be installed on selected bombardments supplying improved operational flexibleness compared to the current manually operated Gatess ; A concern instance based on current monitoring, morphological modeling and probes of a figure of environmental wellness indexs to find whether dredging beyond the current dredging plan will profit the Coorong and Lower Lakes environment and If the concern instance is positive, execution of an enhanced dredging plan to reconstruct, enhance and prolong the environmental wellness of the Coorong and Lower Lakes ( Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2004 ) .

The LMP allocated 15GL of H2O to be released in 2005 and 2006. The primary aims were to supply the best status for some of the native fishes to engender and to increase the estuarial country. Therefore, due to many betterments on LMP program, in July 2005 H2O was released through the bombardments and this status allowed some of the native fish to finish their life rhythm. This status showed that the Coorong was ecologically healthier. The dredging undertaking besides showed a important addition in the flora in the Murray Mouth. Furthermore, in 2006, some native fishes were found and release near the bombardments which means that the H2O quality in that country was suited for them. The MDBC claimed that these two aims were achieved.

However, the absence of the control site made some of these groundss weak. LMP prosperity will go a weak grounds of ecological status betterment without any control site. Furthermore, there is no effort to warrant some of these betterments by comparing with the other impact on the other similar sites.

The Living Murray Program and Salinity Issues

Reducing the salt degree is of import and needs committedness from all histrions: persons, communities and authorities. Many research reported that the salt degree continue to increase along the river. Several betterments in irrigation system and direction, H2O distribution system and salt interception system seem fail to get by the salt issues.

The addition Numberss of irrigation system along the river significantly increase the salt degree in the river ( Schrobback et al. 2008 ) . Human activity within 40 kilometers is believed to be the ground to this addition every bit good. The salt in the River Murray largely came from the shallow dirt. Deforestation and flora remotion from the shallow dirt land caused the salt entered into the river ( Quiggin. 1988 ) .

The monitoring plan showed the informations that there was no consistent increasing in salt degree in the South Lagoon. The salt in the South Lagoon is 2 to 3 times of the saltwater and it was still in that scope. This is means that the LMP is non affected in cut downing salt in the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth.

Figure 2. The Five Barrages in Murray Mouth, Coorong, and Lower Lakes ( Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2007 )

Five bombardments were built in the Coorong, Murray Mouth, and Lower Lakes. Those are Goolwa, Mundoo, Boundary Creek, Ewe Island and Tauwitchere. The chief intent of the bombardments were to insulate the fresh H2O in the Lower lakes and the Murray River. Furthermore, these bombardments were meant to take downing down the salt degree in the lower River Murray and Lakes ; bracing the river degree ; concentrating the flow to the sea to a peculiar country during low flows and to keeping the pool H2O to be pumped for Adelaide ( Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2008 ) .

Since the dredging undertaking in 2003, the best tidal scope has been making the Murray Mouth estuaries. However, the bombardments did non run into the mark since they merely had a low freshening impact on the country near the bombardments. There is no important grounds on salt degree after the 640GL of H2O released in 2005 and 2006. The deficiency of attending on monitoring and mensurating the salt degree worsen the grounds that the LMP merely had a minor affect on the H2O quality.

The other aim in presenting back the H2O of the LMP in this icon site was supplying more frequent estuarine fish spawning. The MDBC claimed that this nonsubjective partly meets the mark since the figure of estuarial addition during the releases but in the South Lagoon the status was still saline. Furthermore, the last aim was heightening the bird home ground. The mark was achieved in winter but exceeded in summer. However, the salt in the Lakes was still high except during the releases. These groundss show that the bombardments system in influence the salt degree, even though the consequence was minor, their public presentation in commanding the releases is of import.

There were failings and strengths in the bombardments releases method like addition in apprehension of the reaction of the Coorong and surround country to the low flow of H2O ; the grounds that show the accomplishable benefit from let go ofing H2O less than 750 GL ; addition in understanding on the sum of H2O needed to blush anoxic deposit and the importance of let go ofing the H2O from Gatess in different bombardments.

In order to let go of fresh and oxygenated H2O to come in Coorong ; sand dredging method and bombardment release, method commanding the H2O degree in the lower lakes and at the same clip maintaining the Murray Mouth unfastened, are used to pull strings the lake degree. The benefit of such method is comparatively broad, non merely for the wading bird bird home ground but besides human activities such as irrigation and domestic usage. The bombardment method can besides be used for cut downing the salt degree of the H2O in other countries like in Lake Alexandria and Lake Albert. Manipulating the H2O degree in Lake Albert can do the saline H2O to flux outside the lake and cut down the salt degree. The bombardment theoretical account is proven to be able to cut down the salt degree in the Goolwa, Mundo and Coorong channels.

Prior to the H2O release from the bombardment in September 2003, preliminary research had been indicated that non or minimum connectivity between Goolwa and Tauwitchere to the Murray river had increased the degree of salination, stagnancy and besides had increased the temperature degree of the H2O every bit good as lowered the degree of dissolved O. This event was conducted by joint cooperation of river operators, research workers from SARDI and besides the natural resource directors.

The event occurred in 2003 has impacted positively to the environment since it outflows and freshened the Murray Mouth country by blending the H2O in North laguna. In add-on, the estuarial status had been established for a short clip together with the impermanent proviso of foods and phytoplankton in North Lagoon. Such event besides caused the Black Beam fish larvae being collected which suggested that the flow might haveA caused spawning.

Figure 3. Barrages in Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth ( Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2008 )

Even though the impact of such event was really short, it was a difficult grounds of how barrage method can be really successful. The similar event was so repeated in August 2004. The bombardment method shown that bombardment flows of at least 2,000 ML/day and may keep the Murray Mouth to be opened comparatively and besides prevent sand to ingress. It is besides shown that 'scouring ' of sand from the oral cavity did non happen with big volumes. Finally, direction system of fluxing H2O through bombardment has to be focused on the attempt to forestall H2O from come ining the oral cavity alternatively of taking sand after its being formatted inside.A

The Water Quality Monitoring Program ( WQMP )

The WQMP is a plan aims to bring forth study and appraisal on the River Murray H2O quality that can be used as ushers and recommendation in plan constitution in the river direction system. The WQMP started its activity in 1978 in roll uping bio chemicals informations from the river on 36 sites. Statistically, between 15 to 18 bio-chemicals parametric quantities are measured every hebdomad along the length of Boundary Creek, which located between Mundo Island and Eve Island, in six monitoring sites.

The WQMP provides the information sing the salt in several periods of clip from 1978 to 2000. However, it did non supply the information of H2O quality after the LMP is delivered. However, in relation to the LMP plan, the WQMP information is utile as a comparing of the information before and after the LMP plan. It besides helps in supplying the recommendation on the current direction to better the wellness of the river particularly sing icon site.

Figure 4: The Water Quality Monitoring Program ( Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2009 )

The consequence of H2O trying from six supervising sites indicates that the 24 hr freshening activity, which occurred between 25th of August and the 27th of October 2005, A had maintain the salt degree below saltwater salt. In add-on the salt readings had indicated that the 1 m tide did non perforate past the oral cavity of boundary brook on the first September. In 14th of October, high tide indicated that some estuarial H2O was able to force up Boundary brook despite the influence was merely less than 200 m ( Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2009 ) .


The LMP is a plan run by three provinces in Australia that aims to retrieve and better the River Murray status that will profit all Australian by maintaining the natural being of the river which has economic sciences, ecology and cultural values. Many species and native species rely on the river and a low H2O quality on the river will do important consequence on the life things includes human along the river.

Salt is a immense job for the River Murray since the natural feature of this river is already saline. Human activities over two centuries increase the salt degree of the H2O and cut down its quality. In Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth, the salt jobs is significantly act uponing the ecology and environmental conditions since the country is the lowest terminal of the flow that influenced by the human activities in the upper watercourse.

The LMP is non supplying the existent and specific informations on salt degree in this country. Furthermore, the aims of this icon site are largely to better the life status for the birds and fishes. The prosperity of the LMP can be seen from the salt degree as an of import indexs in WQMP. The before and after informations was provided by the WQMP ; nevertheless, the LMP did non go on supervising the salt degree, hence the prosperity of LMP is non evidently recorded by the clear informations.

The absence of the control site is one of the failings of the LMP. Without comparing the alterations in the wedged site to the control citation, the alterations can non be seen as strong grounds on the prosperity of the LMP. As the whole plan, LMP give good alterations in bettering environmental conditions of the river in Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth. However, the grounds was non clear plenty in depicting LMP prosperity to cut down salt job of this icon site.

Abbreviations and acronyms

EWMP: Environmental Works and Measures Program

GL: Gigalitre ( 1 billion liters )

ICM: Integrated Catchment Management

MDBMC: Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council

NAPSWQ: National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality

TLMP: The Living Murray Program

MDB: Murray-Darling Basin

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