Wimmera Mallee sites proposed for watering
Most wetlands connected to the Wimmera Mallee pipeline are earmarked to receive seasonal water in all but the driest scenarios under proposals for environmental watering in 2017-18.
Mallee CMA chair Sharyon Peart said the Seasonal Water Proposal (SWP) identified potential sites to receive environmental water under various climatic circumstances.
“The SWP draws 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 proposal list the sites that could potentially receive environmental water, whether it’s wet, average, dry or a drought,” she said.
“We submit our plan to the Victorian Environmental Water Holder, which then liaises with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and other agencies and as conditions unfold and water becomes available the plans are implemented by the Mallee CMA.
Mallee CMA’s General Manager Operations and Community, James Kellerman said previous environmental watering had clearly improved the condition of vegetation around the wetlands, with more vigor and coverage obvious.
“We can see the results in vegetation health, with more vigor and coverage obvious,” he said.
“That’s also backed up by the anecdotal evidence of landholders who tell us they’re seeing improvements in aquatic and terrestrial vegetation and noticing species like Carpet Python and Pink Eared Ducks reappearing.”
Mr Kellerman said the on-site observations about the ecological benefits of watering in the landscape were backed up by up by evidence gathered from motion-sensor cameras.
“We set up cameras at Greens Wetland and Barber's Swamp, near Birchip, and Rickard Glenys Dam near Woomelang,” Mr Kellerman said.
“It’s been fantastic to go through the images and see kangaroos, lace monitors, turtles and a wide variety of woodland and water birds all using the wetlands,” he said.
Landholders around eastern Mallee wetlands are reporting breeding activity among the area’s iconic Inland Carpet Python species.
“They’re just majestic, beautiful creatures, captivating to watch, and to have them doing so well is just great to see,” one landholder said.
“The watering is creating a great environment for all sorts of species. We’ve seen wallabies and joeys, turtles, possums, lizards and any number of bird species, including the Australian Bittern, which is rare in Victoria,” he said.
Video monitoring at Mahoods Corner near Birchip in January captured more than 20 different birds, mammals and reptiles at the wetland, including the Eastern Snake-necked turtle, the Brown Treecreeper and Brushtail possum.
Mr Kellerman said the video footage and on-site observations showed that watering in 2016-17 had been successful, and that watering in 2017-18 would help sustain the ecological outcomes.
But he said the watering programs also provided tangible benefits to the community.
“We had so many people involved in revegetation and fauna education activities and surveys, and community members and landholders want to keep seeing the improvement in the landscape,” Mr Kellerman said.
“In a landscape characterised by a very dry climate and defined by hot, hard work, the wetlands are a refuge for people, too,” he said.
“Communities really love these spaces – people are passionate about their intrinsic value, as well as the recreational and community building opportunities they provide for swimming, boating, picnicking and walking as well as a place for community-based activities,” he said.
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.