National Water Commission - Sulfidic Sediments

Background

The Australian Government’s Raising National Water Standards Program (administered by the National Water Commission) and the NSW Murray Wetlands Working Group funded a large research program between May 2007 and March 2011.

The project "Minimising Environmental Damage from Water Recovery from Inland Wetlands: determining water regimes to minimise the impact of sulfidic sediments (potential acid sulfate soils)" was undertaken by the Working Group and The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre.

Aims

The project's aims were:

  • Determine appropriate watering strategies in inland wetlands to minimise the formation of sulfidic sediments.
  • Identify changes to hydrologic regime that minimise ecological harm in wetlands where sulfidic sediments are already present, particularly where a drying regime is being used as part of a water recovery strategy.
  • Provide tools and guidelines on how best to manage inland wetlands.

The NSW Environmental Trust (www.environment.nsw.gov.au) provided additional funding to promote and educate wetland managers across NSW.

Project Benefits

  • This project advanced National Water Initiative objectives towards improved adaptive management practices to meet environmental and other public benefit outcomes by giving environmental water managers a decision support tool to assist them in reducing the build-up of sulfidic sediments in inland wetlands.
  • The tool was widely disseminated through MWWG and MDFRC's networks and through a multi-jurisdictional technical committee established for this project.
  • The outcomes included guidelines and a refined decision-support tool to manage inland wetlands and minimise formation of sulfidic sediments. The tool and guidelines are also useful in the remediation of systems presently affected by sulfidic sediments.
  • The project team determined that once formed, sulfidic sediments are both difficult and costly to effectively manage. Environmental flows have the greatest potential to be used as a proactive tool for preventing the accumulation of harmful levels of sulfidic sediments in inland waterways.

Project Outcomes

The project delivered the following products to assist wetland managers, water planners and policy makers to minimise or ameliorate sulfidic sediments:

PDF Fact Sheet (374 KB)

PDF Waterlines Report Series No 55 (September 2011) (1864 KB)

PDF Action Support Tool for managing sulfidic sediments (flow chart) (2056 KB)