Valley

Environmental water prepares Goulburn-Broken for drought, report shows

Environmental watering has triggered fish spawning, improved water quality and helped wetlands recover from fires in the Goulburn-Broken catchment, a new report has shown.

The many benefits of environmental watering in the region have been unveiled in Reflections – environmental
watering in Victoria 2014-15, the Victorian Environmental Water Holder’s annual watering booklet.

Reflections is published annually to outline outcomes of environmental watering across 19 river and wetland
systems.

Environmental watering in spring resulted in Golden Perch spawning in the Goulburn River, with large numbers
of eggs observed from Murchison to the Murray River. This is an important environmental benefit in its own
right but it’s also good news for anglers.

In the Lower Broken Creek, environmental watering focused on improving fish habitat and passage. It was also
used to avoid excessive growth of azolla that has the potential to reduce dissolved oxygen levels and cause fish
deaths. Improved water quality also benefits other water users such as irrigators.

Bird watchers will appreciate seeing new activity at Moodie Swamp near Mooroopna. It received 500
megalitres of Commonwealth and Victorian environmental water, which promoted brolga breeding habitat.

The endangered Australasian bittern was also recorded at the swamp for the first time in 2014.

Meanwhile, though Black Swamp and Kinnairds wetlands did not require water in the 2014–15 water year, the
wetlands displayed the benefits of a 2013–14 environmental watering delivered after devastating fires.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority Environmental Water Project Officer Jo Wood says,
“After environmental watering in April 2014, many wetland plants emerged at Black Swamp, including
common swamp wallaby-grass, common nardoo, myriophyllum, potamogeton and river swamp wallaby grass,
which is listed as a vulnerable species.

“Rigid water-milfoil, which is listed as a vulnerable species, and slender water-milfoil, which is listed as a
threatened species were recorded in parts of Kinnairds wetland. Neither had previously been recorded there.”

More than 645 gigalitres of environmental water were released in 2014-15 across the state, timed to trigger
fish breeding, boost river vegetation, improve water quality and provide habitat to birds and animals.

Victorian Environmental Water Holder Chair Denis Flett says, “This year’s Reflection report again shows that
Victoria’s environmental water is not only protecting hundreds of species of plants and animals, but is also
supporting communities through improved liveability, recreational and tourism opportunities and protecting
Country for Indigenous Australians.”

With dry conditions continuing in the Goulburn-Broken, rivers, wetlands and the many plants and animals that
depend upon them will come under increasing stress. However, the rivers and wetlands that receive
environmental water will better cope with these stresses and will provide important refuge for plants and
animals.

Reflections – environmental watering in Victoria 2014-15 can be accessed at www.vewh.vic.gov.au

The Victorian Environmental Water Holder is an independent statutory body which prioritises and coordinates environmental watering in rivers and wetlands across the State.