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Riverbank Collapse

This three-year project is aimed at providing a clear understanding of the processes that trigger riverbank collapse.

It stems from the many bank collapses at various parts of the lower River Murray from Blanchetown to Wellington during the 2009/2010 drought when the river was at one metre below sea level and about two metres below its normal level. Some areas remain cordoned off under state hazard requirements.

The River Murray is one of the few river systems in the world that can fall below sea level because of the barrages preventing the inflow of sea water during low river flows, but there is limited recorded evidence of previous collapse incidents.

At the end of the project researchers should be able to define safe operating levels for the river, allowing management and intervention by State and Local Government. They also aim to have established long-term sustainable options for higher risk sites.

Other outcomes will include:

  • the ability to reliably predict conditions that may led to future riverbank collapse
  • identifying remediation options for repair and protection of affected and vulnerable sites
  • site-specific sustainable management strategies to ensure public safety
  • improved river management and policies to avoid critical water levels
  • better information for the community and government agencies.

The Goyder Institute funded project is a collaboration between the University of Adelaide, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, the University of Sydney, and Durham University in the United Kingdom.

Photo: Claire Punter