Open the barrages, 5 March 2009

Open barrages to give the Lower Lakes a go, says locals.

Concerned local residents have launched the Lakes Need Water website ( to bring balanced debate to the critical issue of South Australia's disappearing Lower Lakes.

They say that seawater is the realistic alternative and indeed a natural choice for the Lower Lakes given their long estuarine history.

"The lakes have always had a mix of seawater and freshwater over the course of their history, when flows were low", says spokesperson Trevor Harden.

"If we truly had a choice, of course everyone would prefer freshwater but if it is a choice between no water and seawater, then seawater is the right choice for the Lower Lakes."

The "Lakes Need Water" group believes that the Lower Lakes issue has become a political football, making it difficult to present clear and balanced, scientific views.

"Strident criticisms of temporary weirs and the use of seawater have outweighed commonsense," Mr Harden says. "It is obvious that the barrages, the biggest weirs of them all, are keeping water levels low and preventing nature from taking its course".

"Opening the barrages would let seawater mix with existing freshwater to create a healthy estuarine environment and give the Lakes a go. Keeping the barrages closed will kill the Lakes, with vast expanses of corrosive windblown sand already evident.”

Mr Harden adds that much of what community ‘action groups’ have been saying about the value of the Lower Lakes and Coorong wetlands is not disputed.

"We all value this unique environment and deplore its destruction. It comes back to whether there really is enough freshwater available to make a difference to the Lakes - water that is being withheld by the State and Federal governments.

"If there is no such water available - and catchment inflow data suggests there isn't - and the scientists and government advisors are right, then groups demanding freshwater are clearly asking for the impossible".

"It is simply untrue that no water is better than seawater or that nature will fix the problem -- seawater has been nature's response to low river flows for thousands of years and it is needed now."

For more information:

Trevor Harden

Lakes Need