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Lower Murray: Locks 8 and 9 Project

Restoring and enhancing the river habitat across the interconnected Frenchmans Creek and Carrs, Capitts and Bunberoo systems.

Lock 9 on the Murray River near Wentworth in NSW.

About the project

The Lower Murray: Locks 8 and 9 Project focuses on sustainable diversion limit offsets in the Lower Murray. It aims to restore and enhance the river habitat across the interconnected Frenchmans Creek and Carrs, Capitts and Bunberoo Creek systems.

The package of works includes:

  • changes to operating principles for weirs 8 and 9 through establishing agreed triggers and scenarios where weirs-pools can be raised or lowered to reinstate a more variable watering regime. It will provide intermittent inundation and exposure of wetlands, aquatic plant beds and floodplain vegetation
  • the installation of regulators and fishways on existing fixed crest weirs to restore fast flowing habitat and hydro-dynamic diversity to the Carrs, Capitts and Bunberoo Creeks
  • restoring fish passage between Lake Victoria and the River Murray through the construction of a fishway at the Frenchmans Creek inlet regulator.

The project will be managed along with other proposed changes in river operations and existing environmental infrastructure, such as The Living Murray works at Mulcra Island and the proposed works at Wallpolla Island.

Project benefits

The works propose to generate significant environmental benefits including:

  • the promotion of fish growth, breeding and dispersal
  • increased habitat use and re-instated seasonal wetting and drying of the wetlands and floodplains
  • improved water quality
  • reduced water loss through evaporation in summer
  • restored habitat and food resources
  • the promotion of bird breeding.

This will be achieved by introducing a more natural watering regime, which will improve habitat productivity and quality, and promote aquatic fauna and water bird use, encourage fish growth and reduce water losses from evaporation.

About the proposed Locks 8 and 9 project and its benefits

Find out about the benefits and improvements of the proposed Locks 8 and 9 project on the Lower Murray.

Project overview

Project overview for the Lower Murray: Locks 8 and 9 Project.

Download the project overview (PDF 1030KB)

Project status

The Lower Murray: Locks 8 and 9 project is currently progressing through the detailed design and approvals phase, with some early works now underway.

The replacement of the Millewa pump station on the banks of the Murray River, adjacent to Lock 9, commenced in mid-May to take advantage of lower water demand. The pumps will be replaced with a contemporary design enabling water supply to continue and the Murray River weir pools to be seasonally varied for ecological improvements.

The new pump station is being built thanks to a $3.5 million contribution from the Australian and NSW Governments under an agreed cost sharing arrangement with Lower Murray Water.

Early access road work is also underway with crushed rock being laid along tracks on the Carrs, Cappitts and Bunberoo floodplain to improve access to the building site during wet weather and to protect cultural artefacts from heavy construction vehicles.

The proposed works at Carrs, Capitts and Bunberoo Creeks are being designed to improve flow regulation and fish passage, with approvals and delivery deeds well progressed to commence construction in late 2022. These works are expected to be operational by mid to late 2023.

History of Locks 8 and 9 on the Lower Murray

Learn about the history of Locks 8 and 9 on the Lower Murray

Project map

View the locations of the sub-projects making up the Lower Murray: Locks 8 and 9 Project.

Fact sheet

Learn more about the Lower Murray: Locks 8 and 9 Project

Download the fact sheet (PDF 125KB)

Community engagement

The project will be managed collaboratively with relevant stakeholders in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.

A Stakeholder Advisory Group has been formed to guide the project decision-making process. It includes representatives from key stakeholder groups, local landholders and Traditional Owners.

The Lower Murray is rich in cultural and spiritual significance. The Traditional Owners, the Barkindji people, will play a key role ensuring cultural considerations are made throughout the project.

Modelling

Hydrologic and hydraulic modelling has been undertaken to inform the options assessment, design and operational planning stages for the Locks 8 and 9 project. Modelling will be fundamental to validating project feasibility, through considering designs, outcomes, costs and impacts, prior to commencing the design, submission and approval process.

Frequently asked questions

Learn more about the project through these frequently asked questions and answers.

When will weir pool trials commence at Locks 8 and 9?

There have been ongoing weir pool trials at Locks 7 and 8 over the last five years through a coordinated approach between Victoria and New South Wales.

Current constraints, including the Millewa pump station at Lake Cullulleraine, have prevented weir pool trials at Lock 9. The proposed relocation and replacement of the pump station  commenced in June 2022 and is anticipated to be complete prior to higher water periods in late 2022. The replacement and relocation of the pump will enable weir pool manipulation to be implemented at Lock 9.  Further details on the Millewa pump station project are available from Lower Murray Water.

How far are we proposing to lower Lock 8 and Lock 9?

Several investigations including third-party socio-economic and infrastructure impact studies have been conducted to inform the operating plan for Locks 8 and 9.

The final operating plan will need to ensure a balance between ecological and socio-economic objectives can be achieved.  Consultation is being conducted with identified stakeholders to assess the possible impact of any changes.

Any proposed changes to operation will need to be formally adopted under the provisions of the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement.

What time of year do we propose to lower Lock 8 and Lock 9?

Investigations have been undertaken to determine the optimal operating regime for Locks 8 and 9. Operating principles will be required to allow for a wetting and drying regime providing flexibility to meet the water requirements of neighbouring ecosystems, as well as meeting the needs of downstream users (irrigators, towns and stock and domestic).

The range of considerations involved in future water level management will be documented in a Review of Environmental Factors to be finalised later in 2022.

Will the Fort Courage Boat Ramp be impacted by weir pool lower at Lock 9?

Investigations have been completed to determine third-party socio-economic impacts associated with the proposed lowering of Locks 8 & 9. The information gathered during investigations is being used to identify the level of impact on both pump and non-pump infrastructure, such as boat ramps and pontoons, and to assist in determining what, if any, mitigation measures will be required. The investigations will also determine any impacts to trafficability within the river and commence to flow levels for creeks and anabranches connected to the Lock 8 and 9 weir pools.

What if my pump is impacted by weir pool lowering?

An assessment of all pumps within the reaches of Locks 8 and 9 has been completed and will be used to determine what impact the change to operational water levels may have on pump infrastructure and what, if any, mitigation will be required. The project has and will continue to consult with water users prior to finalising a weir pool operating plan. Consultation will continue throughout the life of the project.

What type of fishway are we proposing to construct on the Frenchmans Creek Inlet Regulator?

Options for the Frenchmans Creek fishway were identified and assessed with preference being for a vertical slot design. Key stakeholders from SA Water, Murray-Darling Basin Authority, NSW Fisheries, Department of Planning and Environment - Environment and Heritage, Department of Primary Industries and other technical experts have been consulted on each option to determine the most suitable fishway design for this location.

A concept design is expected to be finalised by late 2022 to assess the project’s viability. Stakeholders on the project’s Technical Advisory Group and Stakeholder Advisory Group will be consulted on the concept design prior to any decision to move to approvals and construction.

When will the proposed regulators and fishways be constructed and operated?

The project is currently in the design and approvals phase. The project is due to progress works on the Carrs, Cappitts and Bunberoo Creek floodplain to construction once statutory approval requirements have been assessed and validated.

The construction phase is anticipated to commence in the second half of 2022 and will be managed by SA Water.

Contact us

For more information call us on 1300 081 047 or email us at:

winsw.engagement@dpie.nsw.gov.au