Concern for Lake Albert study outcome

Liberal Member for Hammond and Chair of the State Liberals’ Regional Affairs Committee, Adrian Pederick, has raised a number of concerns about the outcomes from the Weatherill Labor Government’s Lake Albert Scoping Study released this week.

The year-long study, costing $740,000, has finally been released with one main recommendation – the manipulation of lake levels. Another option that emerged is the concept of ‘temporary reset pumping’.

The practice, known as lake-level cycling, involves rapid raising and lowering of lake levels. Lake cycling utilises the existing barrage operating strategies between the Coorong and Lake Alexandrina to vary the level of the lakes but will require more water from upstream. 

The other main option that was considered was the Lake Albert to Coorong Connector. The Lake Albert Scoping Study Options Paper salinity impact findings state:

6.4.3 Primary and detailed modelling suggests that a Connector would be the most effective management option at reducing salinity at Lake Albert. 

6.7.3 Preliminary and detailed modelling suggests that Lake Cycling would result in some improvement in salinity levels at Lake Albert.

“The Labor Government are incapable of providing costings for their own recommendations and say they are unable to justify the $19 million dollars for the Coorong Connector,” Mr Pederick said. 

“A report released by Regional Development Australia in January, 2014, shows the direct output generated from the main Lake Albert irrigation industries could be around $42.4 million if the industries were to return to full irrigated production. 

“However, lake-level cycling may require high amounts of water to be purchased in the future to enable this option to be feasible. 

“I call on the Weatherill Labor Government to look at a long-term fix and to deliver benefits sooner rather than later to Lake Albert. 

“It is clear that River Murray and Water Minister Ian Hunter is not treating the long term future of the Lower Lakes and Coorong as a matter of urgency. 

“The study confirms that the Coorong Connector is the best option for reducing salinity at Lake Albert.

“A full environmental impact study must be done on this option – the community needs the one-off investment for a long term solution.”