River Murray, Coorong under the spotlight for World Wetlands Day 2014

RIVER MURRAY - While Lake Alexandrina's waters look healthy at the moment, it was only three years ago Murray Mouth dredging stopped, and eight years when the drought kicked in.

The Coorong's importance will be highlighted during celebrations for World Wetlands Day this Sunday, February 2.

The Lakes Hub at Milang has organised a tour of Hindmarsh Island and surrounds so the community can see how much the site has changed in the time that has passed, and how important it is to look after the wetlands.

Colin and Sally Grundy have seen Lake Alexandrina at its best and worst. 

The Grundys are fourth generation farmers and run a 6000 acre property at Mundoo Channel, located near the Murray Mouth.

It is the last farming property near the mouth.The Grundys breed sheep and cows for meat and horses for breeding, dressage and rodeo work.

As the Lower Lakes' water supplies dropped in the early to mid-2000s, life looked pretty grim. 

"Our response was just disbelief," Colin said.

If Colin knew what was lying ahead of him, he said we would have sold the property and bought the cattle back once the water returned.

Although the family never ran out of feed for the animals, they ran out of drinking water.

The salinity levels in the water rose so high it was killing the animals.

To combat the issues, the Grundys had a pipeline installed from The Marina Hindmarsh Island to Mundoo Island and Ewe Island to provide drinking water.

Water troughs and tanks were installed to help collect drinking water and fences were installed to keep the animals at bay. 

Today, Colin described Lake Alexandrina as "fantastic".

"I don't think I have seen the area in 20 years look as good as it does now."

Colin has noticed a lot of fish have made a return to the Lower Lakes, including Mulloway.

"The birdlife is amazing," he said.

World Wetlands Day celebrations at Goolwa include a free bus tour of the area. 

The day starts at Goolwa Wharf at 9am for a welcome and a chance to meet state water minister Ian Hunter.

The tour will include a visit to Colin and Sally's farm, a talk about Ngarrindjeri traditional farming practices and an inspection of revegetation works on Hindmarsh Island and surrounding lands.

Bookings are essential and can be made by calling 8537 0808 or via email to info@lakeshub.com

The Coorong was recognised as a wetland of international significance under the Ramsar Convention in 1986. The convention is an international treaty that provides the framework for countries to look after and maintain wetlands and their resources in an environmentally friendly manner.

Murray Mouth dredging started in 2002 as River Murray flows slowed down and struggled to keep the mouth open.

Dredging works finished in December 2010, when water flows were strong enough to push sand out to sea and keep the Murray Mouth open.

Regulators were installed in the Goolwa Channel at Clayton Bay and Currency Creek in 2009 amid fears that acid sulphate soils would become exposed as the water level dropped. They were removed last year.

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan was launched in October 2012 and is due to be enforced in 2019.

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