A $22,000 government grant has given hope that life can be breathed back into the barren SE wetlands at West Avenue.
The grant will allow the caretakers of the Parrakie wetlands to continue working to revive what remains of the high biodiversity wetland.
Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Paul Caica approved funding for the wetlands application "protecting high value wetlands - West Avenue Range watercourse".
"Through directly addressing key regional NRM priorities, your project will further compliment the positive gains being made by the NRM regions of SA," Mr Caica wrote.
Parrakie wetlands member Pip Rasenberg said she was very pleased Minister Caica supported the application and the grant would kickstart the wetlands group's project to investigate the altered hydrology of the wetlands.
The group will work with scientists and conduct soil and water experiments in the next 12 months as well as monitor the species diversity for any changes.
The Parrakie Wetlands watercourse is considered a "high ecological value site" in the SA Wetland Inventory Database.
The 700ha wetland - once renowned for its scenic views, fresh water flow and abundance of aquatic species - is now a complete "dryland", with Mallee Fowl nesting in the floodplain.
The wetland provided a habitat for a unique collection of native fauna and flora, including many species listed at the State and national level.
West Avenue supports a number of animal species of conservation significance including 27 species of plant, 12 types of birds, two mammal, one reptile and one species of frog.
Historically the ecology of the Parrakie Wetlands has been driven by the movement of surface water across the flats from east to west.
Alterations in 2010 to the way the water is delivered to the wetlands has caused a dramatic increase in salinity and alkalinity, putting at risk the integrity of the habitat.
The monitoring of Rocky Swamp - a key component of the wetland - showed during its fill/evaporative cycle that the pH has significantly increased from its usual level of 7-8 to a pH of 11.
"This massive increase in free hydroxide concentrations equates to a level regarded as likely to cause a significant wetland species mortalities," Mrs Rasenberg said.
"It is supported by monitoring, which shows the abundance and variety of native species recorded at the site is in rapid decline."
A study conducted by scientists from Latrobe and Adelaide university investigating the cause of the altered water chemistry in some SE wetlands was recently completed.
"Extensive background work and consultation with scientists has led to a theory that the changed water chemistry of inflowing water is altering," Mrs Rasenberg said.
"The salt and hydroxide levels are increasing in concentration at a critical point in the evaporation cycle."
On-ground monitoring has taken place for the last eight years to collect data on water quality and pH, and the Parrakie wetlands group will use the grant to try and determine just what went wrong in 2010.
"The group will find out where the toxic water has come from and see if it is possible to repair the damage done to the awardwinning wetlands," Mrs Rasenberg said.
"It is devastating that all our species have now died. It is extraordinary to think in just five months all aquatic species were completely wiped out."
West Avenue was listed by the Federal Government as a critically endangered seasonal herbaceous wetland and met the criteria before deep drainage.
"The trial Fairview drain and Bald Hill drain have severely depleted fresh water flows available to the wetlands and flood plains of the West Avenue watercourse."
Mrs Rasenberg said the Federal and State-funded 14m reflows wide shallow floodway was designed to deliver good quality water for the West Avenue Wetlands in low flow years.
But it was without consultation turned into a deep drain, and now delivers water unsuitable to the wetlands.
The water presently sitting in the drain near the wetlands is 23,000 EC - more than five times above the wetlands threshold.
"Extremely high pH - 10.95 - was found by a local environmentalist but ignored for many months by the environmental mangers of the drainage program until we went public due to lack of support," Mrs Rasenberg said.
"In fact high level scientists suggested it was only photosynthesis and was natural this proved to be grossly inaccurate, misleading and not correct."
In collaboration with various key agency staff and scientists, the wetlands group will continue investigating how and from where they can again deliver good quality water.
"There is no point in having water in a wetland if it will not support aquatic species, and in time even the magnificent river red gums will die.
"It is all about what we leave for our future generations, and at the moment there is not a lot."