Issues Paper - Key Points
9 February 2009
Please read our detailed Issues Paper. Key points are:
There is universal agreement that a mismanaged and over-allocated irrigation diversion regime upstream must be fixed and that this will be the ongoing issue; but the Lower Lakes disaster is happening right now.
There are no longer any win/win solutions and any action taken (or not taken) will have a downside and involve a balance between competing needs.
The position of River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group (RLCAG) is not tenable. Read why.
Acidification resulting from exposure of acid sulphate soils to air would leave the Lakes ecologically sterile for decades. Even with the return of freshwater the Lakes would be truly dead.
Salinity levels have increased such that the Lower Lakes are no longer a freshwater environment; the water has been unsuitable for freshwater species and human use for a long time.
Dessication (drying out) is another immediate problem that is resulting in corrosive dust storms.
Freshwater, seawater or no water? If a freshwater solution is not possible, the only alternatives are seawater or no water.
While an estuarine mix or a full seawater marine wetland environment would mean major changes to the ecosystems that were there before the drought (already dying or dead), a healthy estuarine ecosystem on the other hand would have value in its own right. It would be different but not dead.
Scientific research into core samples of the sediment laid down in the bed of the Lakes over thousands of years show conclusively that the Lakes, as might be expected, have been salty at various times over the past 6000 years.
Water levels this low are totally unprecedented over the thousands of years of natural conditions prior to settlement. Prior to the barrages, during past droughts seawater would have moved in to maintain the lakes at sea level. It is only the man made intervention of the barrages that is preventing this from happening.
The Lakes need water now – but the freshwater of an ideal world is not available – which only leaves seawater.