Salinity assessments

Salinity assessments provide information on the current status and future predictions of areas affected by salinity. The reports listed below give 'big picture' salinity trends in various areas throughout Australia. These reports provide information to enable catchment management authorities and natural resource managers to make strategic plans and investment decisions to manage salinity. Information about assessing the severity or impacts of salinity at a more localised level is included in the basics and salinity solutions.

The NSW Murray-Darling Basin Salinity Audit 2009

The Salinity audit: upland catchments of the NSW Murray- Darling Basin (09153SalinityAudit.pdf, 3.13MB) presents a range of information that has been compiled to assess the current status of salinity and future trends in salinity across upland areas of the NSW Murray-Darling Basin. Since the original 2000 Audit, the New South Wales Salinity Strategy has funded major salinity mapping and modelling projects which form part of this salinity audit update. In addition to the Salinity Strategy projects, three specific projects were commissioned to explore past, current and future trends in land salinity, stream salinity and groundwater levels. These reports are available in pdf format below.

Individually, each of these studies focused on one aspect of salinity behaviour and the manifestation of salinity in landscapes or streams. The salinity audit report integrates information from these studies with other available data and salinity modelling activities to document the best available information on the current status and future trends in salinity. Information has been compiled on a subcatchment basis across upland areas of the NSW Murray-Darling Basin.

  • Current and predicted minimum and maximum extents of land salinisation in the upland NSW portion of the Murray-Darling Basin (09107Landsalinisation.pdf, 1.42MB)
    This report  contains information on the current extent of the land salinisation threat in the NSW portion of the Murray-Darling Basin. It details 7 study sites across NSW whereby archival area photography was used to map the extent change in size of the salt scalds across approximately a 40-year record of climate variability. The patterns of extent change observed are extrapolated to all mapped salt scalds in NSW to give predictions of maximum and Minimum observed extents within each basin.
  • 2006 Stream EC trend analysis for inland NSW (09055StreamECtrends.pdf, 4.57MB)
    Based on data collected over 35 years, stream electrical conductivity (EC) trend analysis enables critical tributaries to be identified. If the critical EC behaviour can be linked to particular causes, then management strategies can be readily developed. It is just as important to identify and understand the processes behind catchments that are not showing rising EC trends. This report provides full details.
  • Climatic influence on shallow fractured-rock groundwater systems in the Murray-Darling Basin, NSW (09108GroundwaterMDB.pdf, 1.87MB)
    This report  examines the historical trends of groundwater levels in shallow groundwater systems within the fractured rock hills of the NSW Murray-Darling Basin. It details 16 subsections, across 8 catchments in the Lachlan and New England fold belts. Depth–to-watertable data in production bores, archived at the time of their construction, are used to estimate changes in the watertable since 1900 for each subsection as a whole. The patterns of depth-to-watertable changes are compared with rainfall patterns, to evaluate the relative influence of climate and land-use changes as primary drivers of watertable variations and salinity within each subsection.

The Murray-Darling Basin Salinity Audit 1999

The Murray-Darling Basin Salinity Audit contains information on the extent of the salinity threat in the Murray-Darling Basin. The Audit provides detailed predictions for all major river valleys in the Basin for the next 20, 50 and 100 years and considers the impacts of salinity on economic and environmental values.

The latest information on salinity loads in the Murray-Darling Basin system and projection for the future is contained in the Background paper: MDBC Salinity Update 2003.

National Dryland Salinity Audit 2000

The Australian Dryland Salinity Assessment 2000 (NLWRA 2001) provides a comprehensive assessment of dryland salinity in Australia. The report contains information on the distribution and impacts of dryland salinity and details a groundwater-based hydrogeological framework as the basis for planning, monitoring and evaluating salinity management. The report contains information on salinity management options based on an understanding of the response-characteristics of Australia's groundwater systems.

NSW coastal rivers salinity audit: Predictions for the Hunter Valley

The NSW coastal rivers salinity audit: Predictions for the Hunter Valley provides detailed information on salinity levels in the Hunter River system and the likely future trends across the major Hunter sub-catchments. This information will assist the Hunter Catchment Management Authority development strategies aimed at slowing down the increasing trends in salinity, and focus investment in priority areas.

Information obtained from the audit was used to determine the end-of-valley target for desired salinity levels in the Hunter River at Greta, outlined in the Hunter catchment blueprint (Available on the Hunter-Central Rivers CMA website).

NSW Coastal Salinity Audit

The NSW Coastal Salinity Audit examines the salinity status of coastal New South Wales not covered by the Hunter Valley report (The NSW coastal rivers salinity audit: Predictions for the Hunter Valley). These reports are part of the NSW Salinity Strategy: The NSW Coastal Salinity Audit focuses on the North and South Coast, plus the Manning and Karuah Rivers and Lake Macquarie and Tuggerah Lake basins, which were not included in the Hunter Valley audit.

The Murray-Darling Basin and Hunter Valley audits assessed the impact of dryland salinity on stream salinity and river basin salt loads, and predicted future stream salinity based on groundwater level trends. The audits do not address land salinisation. Likewise, the NSW Coastal Salinity Audit is about in-stream salinity; however, there was insufficient groundwater data for coastal river basins, except for the Hunter, to be able to make salinity trend predictions.

The general findings of the NSW Coastal Salinity Audit are that:

  • median salinity values for most coastal rivers and tributaries are low
  • stream salt loads are not currently a major threat in coastal regions
  • agricultural practices currently present a low risk for stream salinisation across the coastal basins, and
  • that major salinity problems on the coast are associated with infrastructure in salinity hazard areas.

Salinity potential in Western Sydney

DIPNR has developed a map of the salinity potential in Western Sydney as well as a set of guidelines that explains how this information should be used.

The map depicts the distribution and potential severity of salinity based on a practical understanding of the factors that cause salinity.

The map and accompanying guidelines will assist land managers to assess the salinity potential for a particular area. This information will help in regional salinity assessments and management responses, but can not be used for detailed property level assessment.

The information in the document applies to local government areas covered by the Penrith 1:100 000 Map Sheet and parts of the 1:100 000 Wollongong and Sydney map sheets. The local government areas covered by the map are Blacktown, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Holroyd, Liverpool and Penrith, as well as parts of Auburn, Bankstown, Baulkham Hills, Hawkesbury, Parramatta and Wollondilly.

Both the map and the guidelines will be reviewed as more data and information are acquired.

Further information is on areas affected by salinity can be found in saline areas.

Page last updated: 26 February 2011