Win for Murray River as artificial wetland rejected

Plans to artificially engineer a wetland on a key Murray River floodplain have been ditched following concerns highlighted by EJA lawyers on behalf of Environment Victoria.

Earlier this year the Victorian Government rejected plans for the Burra Creek Floodplain Restoration Project north of Swan Hill– one of the nine proposed Victorian Murray Floodplain Restoration Projects.

What are the projects?

Four projects have already received conditional approval, while assessments for the remaining four projects were placed on hold indefinitely in April 2023.

Environmental groups are celebrating the rejection of the project, which would have involved the loss important habitat for threatened species and could have increased salinity in the Murray River leading to acute damage for downstream ecosystems, like the world-famous Coorong Lakes in South Australia.

Submission raises concerns

Representing Environment Victoria, EJA lawyers made a submission raising concerns that the project hadn't been properly assessed and could irreversibly damage the river system – impacting all of us who depend on water for life.

Victorian Planning Minister Sonya Kilkenny directly referenced this submission in her assessment which concluded that the proposal would lead to the destruction of “very large old trees” and have “unacceptable environmental effects.”

We commend the Planning Minister for listening to the voices of community members, scientists and environmental organisations who raised concerns about this experimental and damaging project.

After decades of mismanagement, the once mighty Murray Darling is on the brink of collapse. Too much water has been taken from the river and we need urgent action before it’s too late.

Engineering wetlands to rescue the Murray River is like applying a band-aid to a gaping wound. The survival of the Murray needs to come from water buy backs and other methods to maximise natural flows, not engineering solutions that create as many problems as they solve.“

EJA Lawyer Natalie Hogan

While this is a fantastic win for the community and the iconic Murray Darling Basin, Victoria's Water Minister, Harriet Shing, has said she will keep pushing for remaining flood plain projects to be completed.

With your help, we’ll keep pushing for greater protection for the Basin and for real solutions that see the river as a connected system.

Read more about our work to protect the once mighty Murray.