Most people are aware of the plan under consideration to introduce the Carp Virus into the Murray River. We keep our ears to the ground to follow developments and have collected a couple of interesting links.
Firstly check out this site if you don’t understand why carp are considered such a significant pest http://www.carp.gov.au and I quote:
“Common carp … are the worst pest species affecting freshwater ecosystems in south-eastern Australia. Carp completely dominate our freshwater fish communities in southeastern Australia, making up 80% of the total fish biomass in many Australian rivers, and up to 93% in some places. They are also referred to as ‘ecosystem engineers’, which means they modify their surrounding ecosystem through their bottom-feeding behavior, muddying waters, blocking sunlight to aquatic vegetation, and impacting on tiny plankton, aquatic invertebrates, waterbirds, and native fish.”
Now here’s something very interesting from the USA’s Mississippi River. (Click here to read the article) A media release from May 2017 showed that, after introducing the carp virus in the 1990’s they noted a decline in carp and an increase in their native fish numbers.They wrote:
“It was particularly interesting to see that the richness and abundance of native species including Bluegill – a fish species native to North America that angler like to catch – exploded as carp numbers dwindled”
It sounds very promising, doesn’t it?
Here above Renmark, the Murray River has returned to pool level, the current is minimal and flows across the border are dropping. So it’s perfect conditions for all water sports although you should take care with motor boats until you locate the newly fallen trees and snags.
It’s a wonderful season for being on the river and we’ve been busy making Canoe the Riverland bigger and better for our guests. We joined Youcamp to help you get out and enjoy the serenity. We have established a camping area with camp kitchen, bathroom and flushing toilet so that you can continue to enjoy the peaceful surroundings before or after your tour. For more information and bookings: https://youcamp.com/view/canoe-the-riverland
Exciting news! We are preparing Dinghy Tours of the wetlands for those who just can’t see themselves in a kayak. Everyone comes to Renmark to enjoy the river so we are making it easier for you to appreciate the behind-the-scenes beauty of these world renown wetlands. We anticipate that these tours will be available within the week.
The Murray is flowing across the Victorian border at 60Gl/ day and is now estimated to peak at 90 or 95 in Late November/Early December. While this means different things to different regions of the river, we can attest to it being a sensational time in the Riverland.
As the main channel overflows into the Wetlands, myriad backwaters are filling with water. This is not a flood; it’s the natural filling of dry streams and lagoons that depend on spring flows for rejuvenation. It attracts the birds, fish and wildlife into scenic areas that many people never dreamed existed.
Some of our usual loop trails are going to be out of action for a while but we have the most amazing downstream trip lined up for those who want a very special paddle.
The river flow rate above Renmark has been rising slowly over the last week – the attached photo was taken on last night’s Sunset Tour so you can see that we are still kayaking upstream in the creeks with ease. Today it is 50Gl/day at the border and, while the level is clearly above pool level, it is only breaking the banks in the low-lying wetlands. The flows have been slower to arrive than predicted, with lots of hype and differing opinions. It seems that since the drought, any new water to reach the river is big news.
So let’s put it in context:
The peak flow is estimated to be 80Gl at the border by the end of November, then fall.
Our last high water was in 2011 which peaked at 94Gl and we were all enjoying kayaking downstream that year.
The flood of 1974 reached 180Gl. The 1956 flood reached 350Gl/day.
So clearly this is a good flow of water for the environment but not a flood.
Come and enjoy the beautiful environment and wildlife that water brings to the wetlands.
Chowilla Creeks are 3m above pool level and well over their banks. The regulator was closed last month and they have deliberately held back water to inundate the wetlands. National Parks have been advising schools not to use the area for canoeing because the creekline is unclear and most of the campsites are underwater.
Katarapko levels are low at the top requiring portages because they are keeping levels low to work on the Katfish Reach project. However the weir on the connecting creek is underwater allowing an easy passage if you access Katarapko via Lock 4 area.
Our area, being below Chowilla and above Katarapko is excellent kayaking at the moment. The bridge at Calperum must be portaged but everything else is perfect. Lots of people are kayaking from Victoria to Renmark and loving it. One thrilling change is that Squiggly Creek is open and running from below Headings Cliff into Woolenook Bend thanks to funding to unblock the entrance and give the old wetlands a drink.
This week, flow into SA is about 37 GL day increasing to 40GL this week. Its not difficult to kayak against the flow unless the wind is against you. We have heard that the water from the Victorian rains are likely to reach us in the middle of October, increasing the flow to over 40Gl/day.
There’s a lot happening in the Murray-Darling system right now. The flow over the South Australian border is around 25.5 GL/day and increasing. There is potential for further increases due to high inflows above the Yarrawonga Weir.
So, how does this affect kayaking in the Riverland?
Well firstly, the current is OK for novices and remember that keeping to the edges avoids most of a current’s influence.
Experienced kayakers will be keen to experience the river differently:
- Squiggly Creek is flowing so why not kayak down it from Murtho Forest Landing to Main Lagoon through the Woolenook Wetlands.
- The small weir at the top of Ral Ral Creek is submerged so you can paddle right over the top of it.
- The big stone weir in Katarapko is underwater so this is a great opportunity to loop around the top island without a massive portage.
- Be careful at Calperum’s bridge. It may be too low to get under, plus there is a risk of being caught on a strainer just below it. Plan to land here and check it out before proceeding.
The Chowilla regulator is closing until the end of the year so be aware this creates a difficult portage (about 300m of uneven ground) until it reopens.
We took the above photo about a week ago. It is the Murrumbidgee River at Narrandera three days after a flood passed through on its way to the Murray.
The Murray River is experiencing increased flows from the Murrumbidgee and Ovens Rivers. The only storage area for these waters is Lake Victoria – which is full.
So the flow at the border is now 11GL/day and is expected to increase up to 16 GL/day in this coming week. Which is GREAT for the environment and still pleasant for kayakers.
So far this year, the river levels have been fairly constant and the current has been minimal. It’s exciting to see that above-average rains in the higher reaches of the Murray-Darling basin are now flowing into South Australia. River levels are rising before our eyes.
Flows which have been steady around 3GL/day are increasing to 7 or 8GL/day within the next week.
Despite the above-average rainfall, storage areas in upper Murray need to fill before we see all the benefits downstream. If the flows continue, the Chowilla regulator may be employed again for environmental watering of the Chowilla floodplains later in the year.
If you want more detailed information, check the Murray Darling Basin Authority website (mdba.gov.au)
There are no algal blooms in South Australia at this time but you may be interested to learn more about it while we are hearing of alerts in Victoria.
The following fact sheet is good reading : Fact Sheet for Blue-green Algae
Blue-green algaes are actually cyanobacteria and are naturally present in our waterways, so it is only a Bloom Event that might affect us. Algal blooms are not uncommon at this time of the year when favourable conditions align:
- the water flow is slow
- water nutrients are high, and
- the temperature is warm
Blooms of some blue-green algae species produce unpleasant odours while others produce toxins. Some of these can be toxic on contact, not just ingestion. Boiling the water does not kill the toxins. In fact some treatments used to kill cyanobacteria can cause an increase in toxin release. A quickening flow and/or a lowering of temperatures destroys Blooms.
Being the main water supply for towns and cities, Murray River water is constantly tested at monitoring platforms set at regular intervals along the river. Therefore changes in water quality are readily identified.
So, in South Australia the Murray River is clear and we are using river water for stock, irrigation and recreation as usual. If an algal bloom is detected in South Australia, an alert will be issued for that specific area, along with specific guidelines for us to follow.
SA Water has advised that the regulator will be re-opened on 19th December.
This is great news for people who hate hard portages and good timing for Christmas holiday-makers. And on the bright-side, the new ability to hold back the creek flows around Lock 6 has given a huge boost to the creekline vegetation, wetlands and all the creatures that depend on flooding to survive. The regulator is a wonderful thing for the survival of the area.