Natural Environments

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Alexandrina Council is known nationally and internationally as a region of environmental importance. We are located adjacent to the Coorong, the Murray Mouth, the Southern Ocean with its clean beaches and coastal dunes, and the Lower Lakes Ramsar Wetland.

Our primary water management objectives are water security for our community, minimising risk to property and life, conserving water and enhancing the health of our natural water bodies.

For more information on our natural aquatic environments please click on the links below: 

Murray Mouth and Murray Darling Basin Plan
Fleurieu Swamps
Coorong, Murray Mouth, Lakes Alexandrina and Albert (Lower Lakes) Ramsar Wetland Site

Murray Mouth, Murray Darling Basin Plan and Water Allocation Plans

Murray Darling Basin Plan

The Murray Darling Basin Plan is a coordinated approach to manage water across the Murray-Darling Basin’s 4 states (SA, VIC, NSW and QLD) and the Australian Capital Territory. The plan is a significant step in the ongoing process of managing the river water for the benefit of all its users and the environment. The plan mainly focuses on setting sustainable limits on the amount of water that can be extracted or taken annually from the basin for consumptive use (urban, industrial or agricultural).


The Alexandrina Council covers around 1800 kilometres at the very end of the Murray Darling Basin system and the we acknowledge that the River Murray, the Coorong and the Lower Lakes are in important part of a healthy, working system.

We want a healthy river and lakes environment that is recognised as an Australian icon for generations to come. To achieve this outcome it is critical that the basin plan includes specific end-of system-targets in relation to minimum lake levels, barrage flows, an open Murray Mouth, the salt export objective, salinity targets, wetland health and ecosystem function.

All these points were included in our submission to the Murray Darling Basin Authority as part of the drafting process of the Murray Darling Basin Plan in 2012. As part of the submission and consultation process Alexandrina formed the "Move all Salt to the Seas" campaign. Council advocacy was instrumental in having a salinity target for Lake Alexandrina included in the Basin Plan.

Future advocacy by the Alexandrina Council will concentrate further on salinity, maintaining an open mouth and on reducing the reliance on dredging.

Water Allocations

The SA Murray Darling Basin Natural Resources management Board and the Adelaide & Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources management Board are responsible for managing ground and surface water within the Alexandrina Council area.

All ground and surface water resources within the Alexandrina Council area are prescribed under the Natural Resources Management Act and their usage must be strictly managed to ensure security and sustainability for all users now and in future. 

The legal framework for using ground or surface water within the Alexandrina Council area is contained within three Water Allocation Plans (WAP).

Western Mount Lofty Ranges WAP: includes coastal strip from Middleton to Port Elliot, small area west of Mount Compass

Eastern Mount Lofty WAP: covers vast majority of Council area

River Murray Prescribed Water Course WAP: encompasses Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, parts of Currency Creek, the Finniss, Angas and Bremer Rivers. This plan is currently being updated.

These WAP are legal documents and provide the rules and limits for water use, taking into account the water needs of the environment the community and industries. How much water can be taken out of the resources (underground, surface water and watercourse) by individual users is regulated through the allocation of water licences. The WAPs also contain policies and permit requirements for water affecting activities such as the construction of wells and dams, undertaking works in, and discharging water into, watercourses.

For further information visit the following webpages:


Fleurieu Swamps

swamp swamp

Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps are special ecosystems and are mainly found in the Mount Compass area, around Yundi and in Finniss. These swamps are characterised by having permanently waterlogged soils and therefore provide a home for many endangered and rare native species (flora and fauna). For example, the Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu Wren is one of these rare and endangered species that can be found in and around the Fleurieu Swamps environments.

who lives here sign

Swamps are also important as water filters to remove pollutants from stormwater and help with flood control as they can absorb large amounts of water.

If you would like to learn more about the importance of our local Fleurieu Swamps we recommend you visit the Mount Compass School Swamp Boardwalk and Interpretative Centre.



Further information on Fleurieu Swamps can be found:


Coorong, Murray Mouth, Lakes Alexandrina and Albert (Lower Lakes) Ramsar Wetland Site

 Lower lakes 

The Coorong together with the Lower Lakes is one of Australia’s most important wetland areas and is classed as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1985.

The area is located at the end of the Murray River and is a distinctive mix of several wetland types (including parts of the rare Fleurieu Swamps) and is home to many nationally threatened species such as the Southern Mount Lofty Ranges Emu Wren and the Orange Bellied Parrot.

The Lower Lakes, the Murray Mouth and the Coorong are a great place to visit and locals and tourist can enjoy fishing, camping, boating, water sports, walking and bird watching. The region is also a traditionally important site for the Ngarrindjeri People.

The ecosystem is threatened by low water levels and lower flows from the Murray River due to water extractions and, use of barrages and longer droughts. These events cause lower water levels in the lakes and Coorong, resulting in high salinity levels and reduction of habitats for flora and fauna.

low water levels 

For more information visit the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources or download their fact sheet.

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