The delivery of up to 600 gigalitres (billion litres) of environmental water from the River Murray system, the Goulburn and Murrumbidgee Rivers into South Australia is underway and will continue into January 2014.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, Senator Simon Birmingham said the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has made available over 500 gigalitres of environmental water for deliver to sites across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

South Australian Minister for Water and the River Murray, Ian Hunter, said the water being delivered commenced in July 2013 as part of a ‘multi-site’ environmental watering event, making its way through the river system.

Water has commenced its travel through the River Channel and sites upstream, including the Barmah-Millewa Forest, and it is now making its way to the Lower Lakes and Coorong, bringing carbon, nutrients and small aquatic insects from upstream wetlands and floodplains down the river to South Australia, providing food for fish, invertebrates and waterbirds.

“As well as helping to keep the Murray Mouth open and providing fish passage, we expect the water to help maintain suitable conditions for migratory waders over spring and summer,” Minister Hunter said.

“The environmental flows water will also be important in helping to maintain Coorong water levels and enabling the aquatic plant Ruppia tuberosa to flower and set-seed,” he said.

Senator Birmingham said environmental water from The Living Murray Initiative will also be pumped to a number of priority wetland sites on the Chowilla Floodplain to benefit the recovery of trees and understorey vegetation and provide habitat for birds and frogs.

“The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder will also determine other priority wetland sites in South Australia to receive Commonwealth environmental water as part of efforts to help improve the diversity and condition of native fish and waterbird populations as well as the health of native plants,” he said.

The response of fish, plants and other animals will be monitored to document the benefits of the environmental water delivery. The Living Murray is a joint initiative funded by the New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, Australian Capital Territory and Commonwealth governments, and coordinated by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Media contact: Caitlin Keage – 0427 729 987