Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/71793
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Type: Journal article
Title: A Ramsar wetland in crisis - the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth, Australia
Author: Kingsford, R.
Walker, K.
Lester, R.
Young, W.
Fairweather, P.
Sammut, J.
Geddes, M.
Citation: Marine and Freshwater Research, 2011; 62(3):255-265
Publisher: C S I R O Publishing
Issue Date: 2011
ISSN: 1323-1650
1448-6059
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Richard T. Kingsford, Keith F. Walker, Rebecca E. Lester, William J. Young, Peter G. Fairweather, Jesmond Sammut and Michael C. Geddes
Abstract: 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 Murray–Darling 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 (2009–2010), exposing hazardous acid sulfate soils. Salinities increased dramatically (e.g. South Lagoon of Coorong4200 g L _1, cf. modelled natural 80 g L _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 (4AU$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.
Keywords: Acid sulfate soils; bioremediation; decision-making; drought; ecosystem states; environmentalflows; Murray–Darling Basin; over-allocation; rehabilitation; water resource development; weirs
Rights: © CSIRO 2011
RMID: 0020117596
DOI: 10.1071/MF09315
Appears in Collections:Earth and Environmental Sciences publications

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