The need to protect and conserve the Murray River is of utmost importance as it is a vital ecosystem that provides life and resources to native flora and fauna, as well as our community. To do this, PHCC has teamed up with Urbaqua to deliver the Lower Murray River Action Plan and the Middle Murray River Action Plan to inform and prioritise future actions to help improve the health and biodiversity of this diverse river system.
The Murray River is located approximately 72 km south of Perth and is the largest river in the Peel-Harvey Catchment encompassing an area of approximately 8,300 km2. It is also one of the very few major rivers near Perth that is not dammed for public water supply. Beginning at 170 km inland, the Hotham and Williams Rivers carry their brackish waters to eventually merge and become the Murray River before flowing into the Ramsar listed Peel-Harvey Estuary, one of the most diverse estuarine environments in South-West WA. Land-use within the Murray River Catchment is varied with much of the Lower-Murray areas being urbanised and the Middle-Murray areas consisting of large scale rural properties. Unfortunately, the Murray River has become degraded over-time due to the clearing of land for agriculture and urbanisation, as well as the boating activity in the lower sections of the river.
In 2003, the Murray River Action Plan was developed by the Department of Environment as part of the recommendations from the Economic Development and Recreational Management Plan for the Peel waterways. This Plan covered the more urban areas or ‘Lower-Murray’ sections of the river. In 2008 the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) developed the ‘Middle-Murray’ River Action Plan as an extension of the existing ‘Lower Murray’ River Action Plan. In 2015, both Plans were reviewed and updated through PHCC’s ‘Rivers 2 Ramsar’ project that was funded by the Australian Government. Today, through the current ‘Healing Bilya-Restoring the Murray and Serpentine Rivers’ project funded by the Alcoa Foundation, we are updating these Plans to reflect the current condition of the river. These updated River Action Plans will inform and prioritise on-ground actions and will become a vital source of information for government departments and non-government organisations like PHCC when planning works along the river into the future.
To deliver both the Lower-Murray River Action Plan and the Middle-Murray River Action Plan, we have teamed up with Urbaqua through a Partnership Project. Urbaqua is an organisation that supports other enterprises to co-deliver a water and environmentally sensitive future. PHCC have partnered with Urbaqua previously in 2019, 2020 and 2021 to produce Action Plans for the Serpentine River and the Hotham-Williams River and to develop concept plans for restoration works at various sites along the rivers.
The team is currently undertaking fieldwork which involves surveying the river, mainly by foot, to recognise and identify patterns in vegetation condition, geomorphology, aquatic habitat and water quality. This detail is noted within each ‘reach’ of the river which is defined as a section of the river channel. Within each main reach there are smaller sections or ‘sub-reaches’. Each reach can be anywhere between 1 – 4 km in length and each sub-reach are typically between 200 – 500 m long. In addition, a variety of stakeholder and community consultation meetings will be held to gain insights into how the river is currently used and valued, whether any on-ground works are planned and to explore cultural connections to the river.
If you would like to view the previous Murray River Actions Plans, please see the links to our website below.
This project is supported by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council through funding provided by the Alcoa Foundation’s Three Rivers One Estuary Initiative.