The Peel-Harvey Estuary near Mandurah, Western Australia has many similiarities with the Lower Lakes.
The lake-like estuary and its Coorong-like leg suffered from algal and weed infestations and from polluted runoff of superphosphate from adjacent cropping and grazing agricultural lands. Combine this with the lack of freshwater flows from its three main rivers, and low tidal flows, the Peel-Harvey Estuary was an environmental mess.
The system is said to be Australia’s largest inland waterway which also featured sediments high in organic matter, similar to the Lower Lakes and Coorong. The Dawesville Channel, cut in 1994, was the redeeming feature here, by providing further access from the Indian Ocean. Moving 180,000 cubic metres of acid sulphide soils while keeping it below water was also a major factor in achieving spectacular positive end results.
It is worthwhile noting that this region comprises the most important area for waterbirds in south-western Australia, supporting in excess of 20,000 waterbirds annually. Waterbird numbers and diversity have remained very high since the channel was cut. The lesson for the Lower Lakes is that freshwater is not the only option for restoring bird numbers.
These photos of the Mandurah area were taken in August 2009.
Read the new Ramsar application that was filed by Western Australia.
Click on the markers for more information.