Our rivers, creeks, streams, and drains provide water for primary production and domestic use, habitats for native plants and animals, places for recreation and are culturally important for Aboriginal people. The River Murray is Australia’s largest and most iconic river, and provides South Australia with more than half of our drinking water and underpins regional economies.
Development in catchment areas and our use of aquatic environments has affected the condition of our water ways to an extent that threatens the features that make them so attractive and valuable. Periods of prolonged drought, climate change and associated water pressures have reduced water flows. Clearance of native vegetation and development have impacted their condition through increased nutrients, sediments and pollutants in runoff and wastewater discharges.
Aquatic ecosystems include plants and animals and their habitats in associated river catchments, channels, flood plains and lakes. When these ecosystems are healthy, the plants and animals naturally clean and improve the quality of the water. It is critical that we manage environmental water requirements to maintain the health of aquatic ecosystems.