, Volume 552, Issue 1, pp 1-15

Salt Lakes in Australia: Present Problems and Prognosis for the Future

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Abstract

Australia is a land of salt lakes and despite low human population density, many lakes are adversely impacted by a range of factors. Secondary salinisation is the most pernicious force degrading lakes, especially in south-west Western Australia where up to 30% of the landscape is predicted to be affected. Mining also impinges on many salt lakes in this state, mainly through the dewatering of saline groundwater. Exploitation of groundwater for irrigation caused some lakes in Victoria, Australia, to dry, especially the significant Red Rock Complex. Global climate change will result in new water balances in endorheic lakes, with most having less water, particularly the seasonal lakes of southern Australia. This has already happened in Lake Corangamite, Victoria, but the prime reason is diversion of inflowing floodwater. Consequently, the lake has retreated and become salinised compromising its status as a Ramsar site. Various other lakes suffer from enhanced sedimentation, have introduced biota or their catchments are being disturbed to their detriment. Enlightened management should be able to maintain some important lakes in an acceptable condition, but, for most others, the future is bleak.