Large amounts of water are being released from barrages into the Coorong in South Australia, following opportune conditions and the increased volume of unregulated flows in the River Murray.
Unregulated flows means that the River Murray flow has not been captured in the Murray-Darling Basin Authority-controlled storages for irrigators.
Up to 80,000 megalitres a day of water will be released from the barrages to remove accumulated salt from Lake Albert and sand from the Murray Mouth to improve water quality in the Coorong.
The operation is being managed by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) and SA Water.
SA Water and the River Murray Minister Ian Hunter said, “Last night, favourable wind conditions, tides and swells were identified for the coming week – these conditions, paired with an increased volume of River Murray unregulated flows unveiled a perfect time to push water out of River Murray barrages into the Coorong.
“We have a rare opportunity to help make things right for a healthy, working Murray.
“This is an unusual opportunity, considering that irrigation allocations were set at only 52 per cent for the 2016-17 water year, and increased to 89 per cent just last Friday.
“Releasing large volumes of water in a controlled action such as this reduces the risk of lakeshore erosion by lowering water levels.”
Mr Hunter said River Murray flows would continue to be closely monitored by DEWNR.
The event started 4 August 2016 and is being carried out until 10 August 2016, weather conditions permitting.
All water users are advised that these flow conditions may present a hazard.
Unregulated flows are an important source of water for environmental and operational activities in South Australia.
This is the first time since August 2014 that South Australia has received unregulated flows; this unregulated flow arises from the Murrumbidgee, Ovens, Kiewa and Goulburn Rivers, where rainfall and inflow has occurred downstream of the major storages.