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New Murray River project to investigate riverbank erosion

Increasing community concern and passion for the banks of the Murray River has sparked a whole-of-river project looking at riverbank erosion, under the Murray–Darling Water and Environment Research Program.
Published: 30 March 2022

Driven by community concern and passion for the Murray River, a new project centred on riverbank erosion along the entire river will start this year. Riverbank erosion is an important issue that affects the health and stability of all river systems. 

The research project will be undertaken through the Australian Government’s Murray–Darling Water and Environment Research Program (MD-WERP). It will take a whole-of-river view of the Murray River – all 2,500 kilometres of it – to develop a shared understanding of where and why erosion is happening and how this can differ reach to reach. This will lay the groundwork to shape priorities to address it, where possible.

View looking across the Murray River, with gum trees in the foreground and background, and fallen tree roots emerging from the water.
Bank erosion in the Murray River

There are many causes of erosion, which vary from location to location, and year to year, making erosion a complex issue to understand and solve. It’s natural for the riverbanks to erode and for stream channels to move. However, experience shows that this erosion can sometimes be distressing as it affects agricultural land, community infrastructure, cultural heritage, and natural habitats too. 

By taking a close look at the issue of riverbank stability, the new $80,000 project will collate and document the factors that influence erosion along the Murray River. It will also provide the community with meaningful and relevant information to build a shared understanding of what influences erosion and to help clarify roles and responsibilities relating to erosion along the Murray River within each state. 

A Murray River channel monitoring plan is also proposed as part of the project which will enable both benchmarking of erosion and monitoring of change, over time. This will also inform decision-making for future investment. The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) will be commissioning experts to deliver this critical work. The project is expected to be complete by December 2022. 

This project is part of the Murray–Darling Water and Environment Research Program (MD-WERP), a $20 million Commonwealth-funded science program designed to strengthen the evidence base for water and environment management decisions to improve outcomes for the Basin and its communities. The MDBA administers the program under the guidance of the MD-WERP governing panel. 

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