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Southern Fleurieu

Water:  Protecting and restoring habitat

High Priority

What is this issue

Loss and fragmentation of habitat, and isolation of pools due to structural impediments to flow, affecting aquatic habitat including swamps.

Impacts of the issue

  • Decline in the extent, condition and connectivity of habitat
  • Reduction in size and isolation of plant and animal populations
  • Increased vulnerability to other threats (such as climate change, pests, weeds)


  • Current clearing and continued development including constriction of further impediments to flow
  • Historic land use change and practices e.g. on-stream dams, stock crossings etc


  • Funding
  • Landholder co-operation to change existing structures
  • Knowledge of priority barriers and issues (i.e. we have good fish data but not knowledge about the location and type of barriers to prioritise)
  • Council approvals to change structures (time and cost)
  • Works continue to happen without anyone knowing or approval
  • Sub-division of properties, means more people are involved
  • 4WD activities, altering watercourses
  • Lack of flows
  • Managing risks when connectivity is re-instated e.g. invasive species movements. 
  • Illegal pumping from creeks

Climate impacts and adaptation needs

Projected declines in rainfall under climate change will decrease water availability, further increasing pressure on water resources, reducing stream flow, connectivity and condition of aquatic habitats. Water Resource Plans incorporate climate change consideration, as required under the Basin Plan.

Who plays a role

  • Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
  • Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources
  • Landholders
  • Local Action Planning groups
  • Landcare groups
  • Local Government (Mount Barker District Council, Alexandrina Council,  District Council of Yankalilla, City of Victor Harbor)
  • SA Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board 
  • Primary Industries and Regions SA - Research and Development Institute
  • SA Water

Strategies and Actions

Continue policy development and implementation of Water Allocation Planning

  • Administer Water Affecting Activity policies to reduce the risk of new and modified structures and impediments to water-dependent ecosystems (including interaction with development applications)
  • Implement the Water Allocation Plan to maintain the ecological function, resilience and biodiversity values of water-dependent ecosystems
  • Investigate the use of property encumbrances to protect investment in waterways and ensure works are maintained when properties change hands
  • Streamline permit process for Water Affecting Activities where there are clear ecosystem benefits

Support an integrated approach to aquatic ecosystem restoration (i.e. removal of barriers to flow, return of water, pest management)

  • Identify priority reaches and barriers to connectivity
  • Modify in-stream structures in high priority sites and reaches to improve connectivity of habitat
  • Assess risks from invasive species and water quality of isolated pools proposed for re-connection
  • Provide/encourage carp fishing opportunities as a recreational and tourism activity with benefits to ecosystems

Engage landholders in water resource management and waterway restoration

  • Identify resources to support works on private land e.g. landholder incentives, Green Army support
  • Provide training and information on land use and waterway management, targeting new landholders
  • Improve understanding of landholder motivations and identify opportunities to modify or rebuild structures to benefit the environment
  • Create a library of ‘fish-friendly solutions’ for landholders to make changes to waterway structures

Support Local Government to improve water resource management and waterway restoration

  • Construction and maintenance programs support flow connectivity to improve aquatic habitats
  • Local government development planning and referral processes are supported by best available information with a view to increased flow connectivity and improved outcomes for aquatic habitats