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South East wetlands key to water future

Jul 3, 2013
Author: Goyder Institute


Already under the international spotlight following the Ramsar listing of Piccaninnie Ponds, the South East’s wetlands are now the focus of additional attention from some of South Australia’s leading scientists.

The Goyder Institute for Water Research is undertaking three projects in the South East – all aimed at addressing the region’s complex water management issues – with the latest project, focused on the water requirements of wetlands, recently getting underway.

Goyder Institute Director Dr Tony Minns said the research would help to inform sustainability criteria for the future water allocation, planning and management for the region.

“The Piccaninnie Ponds Ramsar listing has given further impetus to our research projects in the South East,” he said.

“The South East’s wetlands are of significant ecological value. To ensure we protect and sustainably manage them, we need to understand how they would respond to water regimes and this will largely be the focus of our research.”

Research Leader Justin Brookes, from the University of Adelaide, who is working in partnership on this project with SARDI Aquatic Sciences, said that this newly-commenced research project focused on developing an ecological understanding of how wetlands respond to different hydrological conditions.

“This information can then be coupled with any future projects investigating groundwater and surface water interactions and, in doing so, inform decisions about how this water is managed,” Justin said.

The Goyder Institute is overseeing another project, led by CSIRO and Flinders University, which aligns strongly with the wetlands project.

“This project is well underway and will contribute to the development of a numerical groundwater model for the Lower Limestone Coast region which accounts for water inputs and outputs,” Dr Minns said.

The Goyder Institute’s third project, also led by Adelaide University, will focus on improved modelling of the catchments and drainage network in the Upper South East for better management outcomes for water diversions from the drains.

“Given that the South East relies on groundwater for irrigation, town and industry water supplies, it is imperative we understand the water balance of the whole groundwater system, and the connectivity between wetlands and groundwater is a critical part of this,” Dr Minns said.