The Lower Lakes are currently benefiting from strong river flows and water levels are back to pre-drought levels.Nevertheless long-term demands being placed on the Murray Darling system are unsustainable and without changes the next drought will again see vast areas of Lower Lakes dry out. The Murray Darling Basin Authority draft basin plan is silent on this scenario.
Prior to the construction of the Barrages in 1940, the Lower Lakes were part of a vast River Murray estuary. Seawater once flowed naturally back and forth into the Lakes with the ebb and flow of the tides mixing with riverine flows to create rich a estuarine habitat. In particular, during times of low river flows, estuarine conditions encroached up to 200km inland, as far as modern-day Swan Reach. The barrages have resulted in the loss of 90% of the Murray's historic estuary, depicted on this 1844 map of Lake Alexandrina. Now is the time to open the barrages and give the Murray its estuary back!
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