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The Adelaide Coastal Waters Study (ACWS) has been completed and the Final Report Vol. 1 Summary of Study Findings (3.6 MB PDF) was released by Minister Gail Gago. For an outline of the study, outcomes and recommendations refer to the Adelaide Coastal Waters Study Overview (985.1 KB PDF).

The study has been concerned with understanding the coastal ecosystem of the Adelaide near-shore coastal environment in order to better manage this area. The focus was on seagrass, seafloor changes and water quality.

The ACWS was initiated by the EPA in 2001, in response to concerns about the decline in coastal water quality, as well as the loss of more than 5,000 hectares of seagrass along the metropolitan coastline.

The study has focused on the area of Gulf St Vincent from Port Gawler in the north to Sellicks Beach in the south and extended approximately 20 km offshore. Although important, the Port River and associated estuary and wetlands were not a primary focus for the ACWS. However, the input of nutrients and other contaminants from these sources to the coastal strip have been investigated. The Port Waterways Water Quality Improvement Plan (996.9 KB PDF) has developed nutrient reduction targets for discharges to the Port River and Barker Inlet.

Implementation of the recommendations of the ACWS come under the Adelaide Coastal Water Quality Improvement Plan (ACWQIP).

The ACWS has involved the development of a model to determine how different components of water quality may be impacting on the health of the marine environment and seagrasses in particular.

Outcomes from the ACWS

Diver in seagrassThe study has resulted in:


The findings from the ACWS indicate that nutrient-rich inputs to Adelaide's coastal waters are the main cause for loss of seagrasses along the Adelaide coastline. High levels of suspended solids in the near-shore waters mainly due to stormwater flows are also a major cause of Adelaide's poor recreational water quality.

For further information on the study findings refer to the Adelaide Coastal Waters Study Overview (985.1 KB PDF), Adelaide Coastal Waters Study, Final Report Volume 1 (3.6 MB PDF) and the 20 technical reports on the findings of the research.

The ACWS has identified management actions to reduce inputs of nutrients, turbidity and colour in stormwater and wastewater to metropolitan coastal waters. The study found that present nutrient enrichment levels are sufficient to cause seagrass loss. This is compounded by increased inflows of turbid and coloured stormwater and catchment runoff. The ACWS Final report identifies that management actions need to work towards improved environmental outcomes by reducing inputs to Adelaide's coastal waters.

Adelaide coastal waters information sheets

Following the completion of the Adelaide Coastal Waters Study, information sheets on Adelaide’s coastal waters and some of the findings of the study are now available.

The Information Sheets in this series are:

Last modified: 14/01/2015 07:46 am

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