Valley

Barmah regulators opening

Friday 14 August, 2020
Regulators in the Barmah Forest will be opened from today (August 14) to allow water to flow through wetlands and creeks in the Ramsar-listed site as the Murray River rises in response to recent and forecast rain.

Regulators in the adjoining Millewa Forest will also be opened by NSW authorities.

Goulburn Broken CMA’s Keith Ward said before river regulation, parts of the forest would have been inundated most years following winter and spring rain and snowmelt in upstream catchments. 

“For example, this year under natural conditions, the forest would have been inundated since the start of May,” Mr Ward said.

“Opening regulators before the river starts rising allows the water to enter the forest and connect waterways gradually rather than in one sudden rush. As well as supporting threatened animal and plant species that depend on regular flooding, such as royal spoonbills and Moira grass, these forest flows will help native fish move through the system, which is critical for breeding.” 

Most of the flows through the forest will return to the Murray River at Barmah Lake. Water used on the floodplain will be debited against water entitlemets held specifically for the environment. This means there is no impact on the level of system losses for running the river, and no impact on other entitlement holders.

The returning water will contain plant material and water bugs from the forest’s creeks and floodplain that ultimately become part of the food chain that supports native fish such as Murray cod and golden perch. Flushing leaf litter and other organic debris that has accumulated on the floodplain into the river in winter reduces the chance of low-oxygen blackwater event occurring if there is flooding later in the year when the water is warmer.

Opening regulators at this time of the year is standard practice. Directing Murray River flows through the forest also reduces overbank flooding within the Barmah Choke. 

The regulators are expected to stay open until at least the end of October.

Please check the Parks Victoria website www.parks.vic.gov.au or phone 13 1963 for track closures. River heights can be found at https://riverdata.mdba.gov.au/system-view