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A Ramsar wetland in crisis the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth, Australia

Kingsford, Richard T., Walker, Keith F., Lester, Rebecca E., Young, William J., Fairweather, Peter G., Sammut, Jesmond and Geddes, Michael C. 2011, A Ramsar wetland in crisis the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth, Australia, Marine and freshwater research, vol. 62, no. 3, pp. 255-265.

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Title A Ramsar wetland in crisis the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth, Australia
Author(s) Kingsford, Richard T.
Walker, Keith F.
Lester, Rebecca E.ORCID iD for Lester, Rebecca E. orcid.org/0000-0003-2682-6495
Young, William J.
Fairweather, Peter G.
Sammut, Jesmond
Geddes, Michael C.
Journal name Marine and freshwater research
Volume number 62
Issue number 3
Start page 255
End page 265
Total pages 11
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Place of publication Collingwood, Vic.
Publication date 2011
ISSN 1323-1650
1448-6059
Keyword(s) acid sulfate soils
bioremediation
Darling Basin
decision-making
drought
ecosystem states
environmental flows
Murray
over-allocation
rehabilitation
water resource development
weirs
Summary The state of global freshwater ecosystems is increasingly parlous with water resource development degrading high-conservation wetlands. Rehabilitation is challenging because necessary increases in environmental flows have concomitant social impacts, complicated because many rivers flow between jurisdictions or countries. Australia's MurrayDarling Basin is a large river basin with such problems encapsulated in the crisis of its Ramsar-listed terminal wetland, the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth. Prolonged drought and upstream diversion of water dropped water levels in the Lakes below sea level (20092010), exposing hazardous acid sulfate soils. Salinities increased dramatically (e.g. South Lagoon of Coorong>200gL-1, cf. modelled natural 80gL-1), reducing populations of waterbirds, fish, macroinvertebrates and littoral plants. Calcareous masses of estuarine tubeworms (Ficopomatus enigmaticus) killed freshwater turtles (Chelidae) and other fauna. Management primarily focussed on treating symptoms (e.g. acidification), rather than reduced flows, at considerable expense (≥AU$2 billion). We modelled a scenario that increased annual flows during low-flow periods from current levels up to one-third of what the natural flow would have been, potentially delivering substantial environmental benefits and avoiding future crises. Realisation of this outcome depends on increasing environmental flows and implementing sophisticated river management during dry periods, both highly contentious options.
Language eng
Field of Research 050205 Environmental Management
Socio Economic Objective 960903 Coastal and Estuarine Water Management
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2011, CSIRO
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30044185

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