* 31 July 2010: The Save our Gulf Embassy is launched and joins forces with the Fresh Water Embassy. Water campaigners are building solidarity.
* 19 March 2010 The Fresh Water Embassy celebrated its last day on the steps of Parliament House. Many supporters joined us at noon for music, theatre and water-related activities. See “Do you get WET?”
* Click here for a photographic essay (in three parts) that traces the work of the River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group, the Fresh Water Embassy and the Water Election Team from March 2007 to March 2010. photographic log part one. photographic log part two. photographic log part three
* Read about Festive Friday and Awards Ceremony, December 1, 2009, on steps of Parliament House, Adelaide.
* For photos of the Embassy at Clayton Bay and in Adelaide go to “Fresh Water Embassy” on Di Bell’s flickr page
If you would like to volunteer, email
The Fresh Water Embassy represents all the fresh water species, all the Ngarrindjeri ngatji (totems) and all the places and communities that will suffer as regulators, weirs, bunds and embankments cut an interconnected ecosystem into pieces. See Ngarrindjeri statement.
Why an Embassy? The Fresh Water Embassy recalls the powerful image of what became known as the Aboriginal Tent Embassy that sprang up on the lawns of Parliament House, Canberra, on Australia Day 1972. That inspired protest, initiated by Aboriginal activists drew attention to the need for their people to be represented in their own country. The Tent Embassy action rallied support for land rights across the country.
The River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group Inc believes that more weirs are not the solution. We need fresh water and we need to work with nature.
The Fresh Water Embassy, an initiative of the River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group Inc. (RLCAG), was launched at 10.30am, June 28th 2009 at Clayton Bay where it was staffed seven days a week for the duration of the construction of the dam/regulators. On December 1, 2009 the Embassy moved to the steps of Parliament House in Adelaide and will be open in the run up to the March 2010 state election.
Keeping vigil: July 2009 was our last opportunity to enjoy the beauty of these waters before a 400 metre long and 40 metre wide Dam/Regulator was built from Kumarangk (Hindmarsh Island) to Clayton Bay. The winter and autumn rains of 2009 refreshed the country but the dam/regulator at Clayton Bay, completed by August 12, 2009, cut the life giving fresh waters of the Finniss River and Currency Creek off from Lake Alexandrina.
The peaceful vigil of the Fresh Water Embassy lasted for the duration of the construction of the dam/regulators. Many people joined us and recorded their views in our Visitors’ Book and learned more of these wetlands of international renown and our plans to save the River, Lakes and Coorong.
Check Updates and Events for progress of the Embassy.
Notes on the Embassy at Clayton Bay
- The construction of approach roads for a series of embankments (”Regulators“) began on June 24th. One “Regulator” was planned to be built from Clayton Bay to Kumarangk (Hindmarsh Island), a second for the Finniss River (it has been postponed) and a third for the Currency Creek (completed).
- The Fresh Water Embassy was launched at Clayton Bay on June 28th with a traditional Ngarrindjeri smoking ceremony, a flag-raising and the establishing of diplomatic relations with other groups who support its mission.
- We maintained an educational centre in the Shelter Sheds (Base Camp) and each day raised three flags: The Ngarrindjeri, Australian and Fresh Water Embassy banner.
- We kept fires going on the hill at the Look Out and Base Camp.
- The Embassy was a place for protesting the construction of the dam/regulators in the Goolwa Channel, a place to learn from the locals, a place to share stories and to plan further actions. A bioremediation plot was established and we monitored the growth of the native plants.
- The stated purpose of the dams was to manage the problem of acid sulfate soils and the possibility that the water bodies will acidify. We have a different story to tell. Learn more of the success of revegetation, strategic liming, mulching.
- When Peter Garrett, as Minister for the Environment, approved the structures, he did not require an Environmental Impact Statement. Many of us who live here and know the area, wrote detailed submissions and outlined alternative ways of managing the acid sulfate soils problem. Since then the SA Government has trialed various low intervention strategies and the results are encouraging. We urge you to learn more of the alternative ways of managing the risks posed by ASS.
- Our action was law-abiding and conducted under the auspices of the RLCAG.
- On July 11, 2009, we conducted a wake for the River Murray. Join us: embassy-fish-lunch
- On December 1, 2009, the SA Department of Environment and Heritage asked the federal minister, Peter Garrett, to extend the life of the “temporary” dam/regulator indefinitely. We will be posting more materials on matters EPBC over the summer break. Stay tuned.
For more information contact Diane Bell 0427 554 194; email
The idea for monitoring began with photographs and emails. “Have you noticed the new growth through the acid sulfate soils?” “What is happening?” We spent weekends mapping the plants to document what was growing where. We collected seeds, planned nurseries.
The River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group launched their “The Summer We Saved the Lakes” campaign with a “do-it-ourselves” day at Clayton Bay on December 7, 2008. The Summer We Saved the Lakes
The Milang Old School House Community Centre (MOSHCC), the Goolwa to Wellington Local Action Planning Board Inc (GWLAP) and all the combined environment, community, Landcare, catchment and local action planning boards from Lake Albert to Goolwa in South Australia developed their Business Plan for the Lower Lakes Remediation and Green Jobs Package. The “SHORELINE: Partnerships in Bioremediation” Plan makes clear the commitment, skills and knowledge of our environment.
We looked to the CSIRO for reports on acid sulfate soils but they were slow coming. The report on the Finniss River and Currency was preliminary. We are still waiting for the final report. We found that decisions were being made based on research that had not been made available to the public. Every now and then a statistic would be released but without context, without access to the data, and with no explanation of the assumptions informing the models, we had little faith in the management strategies being proposed.
The rationale for the building of weirs/regulators – one between Clayton Bay and Hindmarsh Island and others at the mouth of the Finniss River and Currency Creek – shifted from creating a fresh water refuge to managing ASS. The SA Government had predicted that the “Finniss River and Currency Creek will acidify at a water level of approximately minus 0.75m AHD.” The pH levels reported by the publicly accessible monitoring stations (http://data.rivermurray.sa.gov.au/) are still alkaline (pH 8.57) and the levels are now minus 1.04m AHD. What is happening? Community monitors have been hard at work trying to make sense of the data. Continue Reading Show us your science
We also found that relevant reports were not even mentioned in proposals for managing ASS.
Project: Stage 1 - Preliminary Assessment of Treatment Options, prepared by Earth Sciences … Dec. 2008. Download the document here
Lower Murray Lakes Project: Stage 2 - Preliminary Assessment of Treatment Options, prepared by Earth Sciences … Dec 2008 Download the document here
Recent reports from the CSIRO on Acid Sulfate Soils
- Preliminary Assessment of Acid Sulfate Soil Materials in Currency Creek, Finniss River, Tookayerta Creek and Black Swamp region, South Australia
- Acid sulfate soils in subaqueous, waterlogged and drained soil environments in Lake Albert, Lake Alexandrina and River Murray below Blanchetown (Lock 1): properties, distribution, genesis, risks and management. See report
- Acid sulfate soils in subaqueous, waterlogged and drained soil environments of nine wetlands below Blanchetown (Lock 1), South Australia: properties, genesis, risks and management. See report
We have been following the CSIRO guidelines re testing.
- We have been working with Carole Richardson who is the Project Officer responsible for the development and implementation of the “Community Involvement in Preliminary Ecological Investigations into Adaptation and Rehabilitation of the Coorong, Lake Alexandrina, Lake Albert, and Murray Mouth Region” Project. Her role is to ensure effective community partnerships at local and regional levels in the delivery of projects funded to implement community driven acid sulfate soils remediation and associated monitoring programs. It’s good to have Carole on the job. She is local. She knows the country and she has worked tirelessly with the local community as a volunteer.
- We have been working with the local LAP groups.