River

Environmental flows help Goulburn River fish, birds and plants during dry times

A recently completed environmental flow, and previous years’ environmental deliveries, will help the Goulburn River environment cope with forecast dry conditions.

“We have just completed a flow along the Goulburn River that was aimed at encouraging and establishing vegetation growth on the lower to mid banks of the river to provide habitat and food for wildlife, including fish, birds and water bugs, and to protect the banks,” Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) CEO Chris Norman said.

“It will also provide a soil moisture store in the river bank to maintain this vegetation going into a forecast hot, dry summer. Once this environmental water leaves the Goulburn River, it can be used again to water and benefit wetlands and other sites downstream and along the Murray, too.”

A second spring flow that was being considered for November to provide cues for Golden Perch spawning and migration will not go ahead.

“As is the case with all water entitlement holders, environmental water holders are affected by seasonal allocations, so given allocations on the Goulburn system are at 75%, and the forecast dry conditions associated with the El Nino weather pattern, we will not proceed with a second spring flow,” Mr Norman said.

“Fortunately the previous two years have seen good Golden Perch spawning in the Goulburn River and consequently the November fresh was not one of the highest priorities for 2015/16.”

Goulburn Broken CMA and the Commonwealth and Victorian Environmental Water Holders have agreed to concentrate on delivering higher priorities this year and carrying over water to help protect against low allocations next year given the low water availability.

“This means we will maintain minimum base flows of about 500ML/day to maintain fish and water bug habitat and fish passage. A late summer/early autumn fresh is being considered to protect and improve bank and in-stream vegetation,” Mr Norman said.

This is not the first time a proposed environmental flow for the Goulburn has not gone ahead.

“In 2014, a winter flow did not occur as result of heavy rain,” Mr Norman said. “It’s standard practice for the agencies involved in delivering and planning the flows to adjust yearly watering plans in response to prevailing weather and river conditions and other water users’ demands.”

Environmental flows are planned by the Goulburn Broken CMA, in partnership with Goulburn-Murray Water and the Commonwealth and Victorian Environmental Water Holders. Environmental water releases for the Goulburn River are made in line with the Victorian Environmental Water Holder’s Seasonal Watering Plan 2015-16. The Seasonal Watering Plan 2015-16 is available at www.vewh.vic.gov.au