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Engineering solutions to meet environmental needs

The Joint Governments have successfully developed and commissioned a number of water management structures, such as regulators and levees through the Living Murray Initiative. They enable water managers to inundate areas and keep water on them for longer using less water than under natural flows.

In the early years of this initiative the focus was on identifying and testing feasible projects that would meet or make a big contribution to the environmental water requirements of the sites.  Impacts on third parties of changing river operating rules were considered and Basin governments undertook extensive consultation in affected communities. This was a significant exercise, which took around four years.

Operating plans were devised to minimise any environmental risks, enable adaptive management of sites, allow for variable watering to mimic the natural environment and achieve multiple outcomes for the Basin environment. Controlled test runs of the new works were conducted after construction finished.

Most of the water management structures built under the program are now being used to deliver water for the environment consistent with the Basin Plan. The sites continue to be carefully monitored to track the condition of the sites through time. Knowledge about how the landscape is responding to water management is being used to continually improve environmental water planning. This includes understanding how to best use environmental water and works to maximise ecological outcomes.

The Basin Plan’s Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism is building on this work.