Scientific Trials and Investigations Project
This project is part of the Department for Environment and Water’s Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin Program, which is jointly funded by the Australian and South Australian governments.
The Coorong is widely regarded as one of the most important waterbird habitats in the Murray–Darling Basin. It is a unique wetland that provides important ecological, cultural, social and economic values at local, national and international scales. Along with Lake Alexandrina, Lake Albert and the Murray Mouth, the Coorong is listed as a Ramsar wetland of International Importance.
As a result of reduced water availability across the Murray-Darling Basin, which has been exacerbated by the Millennium Drought, further research is required to improve the current ecological state of the Coorong. Whilst the relatively recent increase in freshwater inflows to the Coorong since the Millennium Drought, accompanied by bodies of work implemented through the State and Federal Governments have improved the condition of some aspects of the ecology, other aspects have not recovered, particularly within the South Lagoon. The poor ecological condition of the Coorong South Lagoon is associated with both the prevalence of filamentous green algae that is preventing aquatic plants from completing their lifecycle and interfering with the ability of waterbirds to feed on both plants and invertebrates in mudflats; and the presence of sediments known as Monosulfidic Black Ooze which contain little or no oxygen.
In 2018, an Independent Expert Panel of the Goyder Institute recommended that a range of actions be taken to restore the ecological character of the South Lagoon (in addition to environmental water recovery) which informed development of the Healthy Coorong Healthy Basin program. The HCHB Program is a $77.8 million initiative of the Australian and South Australian governments aiming to support the long-term health of the Coorong by providing evidence-based solutions to both immediate threats and future conditions anticipated under a changing climate. The HCHB Scientific Trials and Investigations Project will provide the evidence-base for more efficient and effective use of water to protect the ecological character of the Coorong and will inform the development of long-term management solutions.
In collaboration with its research partners and the South Australian Department for Environment and Water (DEW), the Goyder Institute is delivering five components of the Scientific Trials and Investigations Project:
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