WLE's Salinity Management Framework
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  WLE Salinity Management Framework

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   Why a framework?

Salinity Audit - 1999:

In late 1999, the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council released the Salinity Audit of the Murray Darling Basin, which included a review of the 1988 Salinity & Drainage Strategy. The audit was more sophisticated than earlier work in that it took into account climatic variations and diversions and used modeling to predict future trends rather than just describing historical trends. The overall basin audit was based upon predictions undertaken by each state government (NSW Salinity Strategy 2000).

This audit provided information on salinity trends, river valley by river valley, for salt mobilisation in the landscape and its expression in rivers. It predicted significant increases in river salinities and salt loads in the Murray and Darling Rivers and the major catchments of these rivers. Average river salinities in key tributary rivers were predicted to rise significantly, endangering their use for irrigation and urban purposes within 20 to 50 years, and about 3.4 million ha of land in the eastern and southern regions of the Basin will be salt-affected within 50 years (Murray Darling Basin Commission, 2001).

If no intervention was to occur, the reduction in lower River Murray salinity achieved over the last decade would be cancelled out within 20 to 30 years, and median salinity levels would exceed the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines for good quality water within 50 to 100 years (Murray Darling Basin Commission 2001).

A key finding of the salinity audit was that much of the mobilised salt was not being exported via the rivers to the sea but rather stays in the landscape or is diverted into irrigation areas and floodplain wetlands (MDBC Salinity Audit). In addition to an increased understanding of salinity impacts on assets and values the audit led to the development of methodology for setting salinity targets within the basin (NSW Salinity Strategy, 2000)

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