Murray Mouth Sand Pumping Project
In May 2002 a large volume of sand flowed into the Murray Mouth during two storms, causing constriction of the Murray Mouth and channels. All available evidence indicated that the Murray Mouth would close if no action was taken. As a result, the Murray Mouth Sand Pumping Project commenced dredging operations in October 2002.
Dredging was halted in December 2010 with the return of higher flows and projections of a significant amount of water in early 2011.
Dredging was conducted for more than eight years and more than 6,000,000 cubic metres of material was removed from the Murray Mouth.
Water levels will continue to be monitored and dredging may be reinstated if there are significant changes in the channel profiles.
Aerial view of the Murray Mouth taken August 2010
The Murray Mouth has only closed once before in recorded history, in April 1981. To date dredging has been assessed in terms of cost and environmental criteria as the most effective method for keeping the Murray Mouth open, compared with twelve other methods investigated.
The Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth region is of high ecological significance and is recognised internationally as a RAMSAR site and nationally as an icon site of the Murray Darling Basin. The Murray Mouth and surrounding Lower Lakes and Coorong provides habitat for extensive waterbird populations, including several species listed on the China-Australia and Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreements.
A range of monitoring procedures are conducted regularly to provide visual and quantitative data for project review and assessment purposes, in particular:
- bathymetric surveys to monitor bed level changes and silt movement
- monitoring and recording of tide gauges (Diurnal Tidal Ratio)
- satellite imagery and monitoring
- aerial inspections and photography
- water quality monitoring
- ecological monitoring and bird counts.
The traditional land owners of the region, the Ngarrindjeri, maintain a continuous, strong relationship with their land and water. In 2002 a Cultural Ranger service was established to inspect the dredging operations as well as promoting public safety and awareness of the need to dredge the Murray Mouth.
Above: Aerial view of the Murray Mouth taken July 2010
Above: Aerial view of the Murray Mouth taken September 2010
Above: Aerial view of the Murray Mouth taken December 2010
Above: Aerial view of the Murray Mouth taken May 2011
For further information please contact Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources on phone (08) 8204 8354.