Oral Presentation 9th Australian Stream Management Conference 2018

Managing erosion from vessel wash on a reach of the Murray River (#35)

Hugo Bowman 1 , Kade Small 2
  1. Murray Darling Basin Authority, Wodonga, Vic, Australia
  2. Soil Conservation Service, Albury, NSW

Boating is a popular activity on many of Australia’s inland waterways. Over recent years, activities such as wake boarding and wake surfing have increased substantially in popularity. These activities often use large vessels specifically designed to enhance the size of the vessel wash. Prolonged exposure of river banks in high boat use areas to high energy vessel wash can result in accelerated rates of erosion. Bank condition assessments undertaken in 2009 and 2016 on the Murray between Corowa and the confluence of the Ovens River River identified a four-fold increase in the extent of high severity erosion over the seven year period. This increase in erosion correlates with observations of increasing numbers of large powered vessels using the area for wake enhancing activities. In addition, vessel wash is suspected to be largely responsible for the failure of many of the timber remedial bank protection measures installed to address the detrimental geomorphic impacts associated with flow regulation, within high boat use areas. To address these issues, along with concerns about safety and amenity, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and Roads and Maritime Services intend to implement a three-year trial to restrict wake enhancing activities along a section of the Murray River, commencing in April 2018. This controversial proposal has divided opinions and been met with significant opposition from segments of the boating community. This paper outlines the issue, the monitoring program, the community engagement strategy and the approach taken to address accelerated rates of erosion from vessel wash.  

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