Goulburn River to benefit from spring water delivery

Monday 28 August, 2023
The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) plans to deliver water for the environment down the Goulburn River in September to benefit native fish, platypus and the long-term health of the waterway.

Goulburn Broken CMA Environmental Water and Wetlands Manager, Simon Casanelia, said the annual water release was referred to as the Goulburn River early spring fresh and was expected to run from approximately 4  to 31 September.

“This additional water will enhance available habitat for native fish, platypus and waterbugs, enabling them to use the food washed in from the high flows as the weather becomes warmer,” Mr Casanelia said.

“Because fish are more actively migrating and spawning in spring, there is great value in the spring fresh, even with the high winter flows we’ve had.

“Conditions are also ideal for native plant growth which will aid long-term bank stabilisation.”

The fresh is expected to benefit the whole length of the Goulburn River downstream of Lake Eildon. It will begin with a peak flow of approximately 9,500ML/day at Trawool and Shepparton before slowly dropping back to approximately 1,000ML/day later in September.  

Mr Casanelia said peak flows would be well below minor flood levels along the Goulburn River.

“At Trawool the river will reach 2.4m, the minor flood level is 4m, and at Shepparton the river will reach 4m, the minor flood level is 9.5m. Timing and height of the fresh may vary depending on natural flows in the river. Delivery of water for the environment will reduce or stop if there is any flood risk.

“Timing of the spring fresh has been complex this year. Planned works at Goulburn Weir in October require the fresh to start in early September. This could have led to high flows during the Goulburn Fishing Festival on 2 September, however following consultation with the community, it was agreed to delay the start of the fresh several days so as not disrupt the fishing festival or the planned Goulburn Weir works.”

Environmental flows are planned by the Goulburn Broken CMA in consultation with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) as well as Goulburn-Murray Water, who manage the releases of environmental flows from its storages. 

This use of water for the environment is authorised by VEWH in line with its Seasonal Watering Plan 2023-24, which is available for download from www.vewh.vic.gov.au, with regular watering updates posted on the Goulburn Broken CMA website www.gbcma.vic.gov.au 

Providing water for the environment is only one way of protecting and improving rivers and wetlands. Fencing and revegetation, erosion control, pest control, returning logs to rivers (re-snagging) for fish and bug habitat, and installation of fishways to allow fish to pass through dams and weirs also help.  

Find out more about river health, water for the environment and monitoring activities at www.gbcma.vic.gov.au  

To check how Water for the Environment changes flows in the Lower Goulburn, view the hydrograph on Goulburn Broken CMA’s website:  fchmccoys.hydronet.com (updated weekly). 

The Goulburn River at Bunbartha after a wet winter and high river flows. The spring fresh will provide extra food sources for fish and promote vegetation growth.

The Goulburn Broken CMA acknowledges and respects First Nations people and the deep connection they have with their land and waters.

We acknowledge the Yorta Yorta and Taungurung people and their ancestors/forbears as Traditional Owners of the land and waters in the Goulburn Broken Catchment (and beyond). We value our ongoing partnerships with Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation and Taungurung Land and Waters Council for the health of Country and its people.

We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging and acknowledge and recognise the primacy of Traditional Owners obligations, rights and responsibilities to use and care for their traditional lands and waters.

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