Mallee sites proposed for environmental water
Community feedback is being invited on proposals for environmental watering of River Murray floodplain sites in the Mallee during 2017-18.
Mallee CMA chair Sharyon Peart said the Seasonal Water Proposals (SWP) identified potential sites to receive environmental water under various climatic scenarios.
“The SWPs draw on environmental flow studies and longer-term plans such as Environmental Water Management Plans and the Mallee Waterway Strategy to plan the delivery of environmental water across the region,” Ms Peart said.
“The proposals list the sites that could potentially receive environmental water, depending on how the season evolves, whether it’s wet, average, dry or a drought,” she said.
“We submit our proposal to the Victorian Environmental Water Holder, which then prepares a collated summary of seasonal watering proposals – this becomes the seasonal watering plan. As climatic conditions become clearer and water becomes available the plan is implemented by the Mallee CMA in collaboration with environmental water holders and land managers.”
Mallee CMA’s General Manager Operations and Community, James Kellerman said a growing body of evidence was demonstrating improved health in Mallee wetlands and floodplains from environmental watering.
“Each year surveys and evaluation work at our wetlands build the available data about the effects of environmental flows,” Mr Kellerman said.
“That knowledge is constantly improving the planning and implementation of environmental watering, but it’s also telling us that environmental watering is having a significant positive impact,” he said.
Mr Kellerman said the close monitoring of the Hattah Lakes, as an icon site under The Living Murray Program, has shown ongoing improvement in health of vegetation, fish and waterbirds communities.
“The Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre’s most recent survey results showed a total of 113 floodplain plants and 74 wetland plants recorded at Hattah Lakes last year,” he said.
“That included 13 new plants recorded for the first time at Hattah, two of which are listed as vulnerable in Victoria – Jerry-jerry (Ammannia multiflora) and Glistening Dock (Rumex crystallinus).”
Mr Kellerman said information gathered allowed a better understanding of how to use environmental water and how to manage delivery infrastructure to maximise the ecological outcomes.
“But it’s not just the environment that benefits – it’s community values that are important too, such as opportunities for recreation through camping, canoeing, fishing, bushwalking and birdwatching,” he said.
The Living Murray is a joint initiative funded by the New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, Australian Capital Territory and Commonwealth governments, coordinated by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority.
Managing water to look after our valuable floodplains is part of the State government’s broader $222 million Water for Victoria initiative to improve the health of waterways and catchments across regional Victoria.