About low flows

What problem needs to be solved?

There are thousands of dams and watercourse diversions in the Mount Lofty Ranges, which impede natural flow paths, capture water, reduce downstream flow volumes and change flow patterns in catchments.

This is putting many ecosystems, and the businesses and communities that rely on them, at risk. Providing low flows will re-establish more natural flow patterns and improve the health of our regional landscapes, which are so valued by those who live in or visit the region. Securing low flows for the environment will improve water quality, help to stabilise creekbeds, and support long-term water security.

To find out more about low flows, why they’re important, and the program to secure low flows in the Mount Lofty Ranges, read about our Securing Low Flows program.

Existing solutions to provide for low flows are limited and can be costly. The way that water is managed varies between properties, so a range of different and adaptable solutions for securing low flows are needed.  The low flows design competition has helped to expand the range of ideas. The manufacturing, innovation and commercial potential of opportunities to provide low flow solutions is yet to be explored.

What does 'secure low flows' really mean?

'Low flows' are naturally occurring, regular, small flow events that are part of the annual water pattern of a catchment. They are a small but essential fraction of water that needs to flow across land through watercourses to maintain natural processes and catchment health.

With dam and diversion interceptions effectively lengthening the time that catchments go without water, the no-flow period is getting longer and catchment health is declining. We know this because water quality is decreasing, watercourse pools are drier for longer, fish are disappearing and plants and animals are struggling to reproduce and survive.

The main effects of water taking on the flow pattern are that:

  • the flow season starts later and ends sooner
  • times of no-flow happen more often and last longer
  • low levels of flow, when they occur, are smaller throughout the year
  • freshes or pulse flows happen less often and are shorter outside the high flow season of late winter and early spring.

'Securing low flows' is about re-establishing more natural flow patterns. The aim is to maintain the necessary balance between water for productive purposes and water for the environment.

The low flow design in this library aim to return these flows, or prevent them from being captured by dams or diverted from watercourses. These designs will assist keeping the trickle in creeks flowing all the way through the system.

Who is the end user of the design library?

Landholders in the Eastern Mount Loft Ranges may need to include a low flow solution at some existing dams and watercourse diversions and must include a low flows solution on most new dams and watercourse diversions.

The designs in this design library are available to the community – including consultants, constructors, manufacturers, landholders, or anyone else who wants to use it.

These designs are community ideas. They are not approved solutions but can be used to support developing site-specific proposals.

Do I need to pay someone to use their design?

All designs listed in this design library have been shared under an Attribution-Share Alike creative commons licence. This licence allows users to distribute, remix and build upon the work, and create Derivative Works – even for commercial purposes – as long as they credit the original creator/s (and any other nominated parties) and license any new creations based on the work under the same terms. All new Derivative Works will carry the same licence, so will also allow commercial use.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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 Are there other examples of low flow solutions I can look at?

Guidelines and reports describing some other devices designed to return low flows at or below threshold flow rate can be found in the related links below.


Related links

More information

  • Senior Project Officer, Catchment Management
    Lower level, Corner Mann & Walker Street, Mount Barker SA 5251
    08 8391 7500
    mardi.vanderwielen@sa.gov.au