Australia's largest river, the River Murray, discharges to the southern ocean through a coastal lagoon and river-dominated tidal inlet. Increased water extractions upstream for irrigation have led to significantly reduced flows at the mouth and, as a result, the area is undergoing rapid change, particularly with regard to the rate at which sediment is being transported into the lagoon. Based on detailed and accurate bathymetric surveys it has been possible to estimate that the rate of lagoon in-filling is of the order of 100,000 m3 per year for the period June 2000 to May 2003, although the actual rate shows significant year to year variability. Dredging of the lagoon commenced in 2000 in an attempt to reverse the trend.
In an effort to understand the behaviour of the inlet a one-dimensional numerical model of the inlet has been developed. The model extends the original of van de Kreeke by including a dynamic inlet throat area based on predicted river flows and a sediment transport module to predict the resulting net sediment transport. Comparisons with water level data collected on both the ocean and lagoon sides of the mouth have shown that the model is able to predict the attenuation and lag of the tidal signal reasonably well. The sediment transport model was based on predicted sediment concentrations in the surf zone and was found to predict the rate of sediment in-filling to an acceptable level of accuracy. It is envisaged that the model will be a useful management tool, especially since it is possible to manipulate river discharges to the mouth. http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/622823/description#description B. Shuttleworth, A. Woidt, T. Paparella, S. Herbig and D. Walker