Water plants

Keeping a popular wetland healthy

Wednesday 17 October, 2018
Water for the environment has been delivered to Numurkah’s popular tourist and recreational site Kinnaird’s Wetland

Up to 500ML was due to be delivered to the wetland by the end of this month to maintain vegetation that provides shelter and habitat for wildlife. Due to recent rain, only 400ML needed to be delivered.

The local visitor centre reports that the majority of the 6,500-plus visitors to the town each year head to the wetland, which has bird hides, picnic areas, board walks and walking and cycling trails. School groups, field naturalists and bird observer groups also visit the wetland on a regular basis to appreciate its natural values and wildlife.

Over the years river regulation – channels, weirs and dams – altered the natural path, timing, frequency, volume and duration of water flowing into the wetland, which meant it was often inundated unseasonally and/or all year round. This affected the wetland’s native vegetation and wildlife and created drainage and salinity issues in the surrounding landscape. However, in the 1990s infrastructure was developed as part of the community-led Muckatah Depression Main Drain project to improve drainage for more than 60,000 hectares of nearby farm land. The infrastructure also allowed better control of flows into Kinnaird’s Wetland to restore more natural wetting and drying patterns.

“The infrastructure allows us to deliver water for the environment in spring, a key breeding time for wildlife,” Goulburn Broken CMA CEO Chris Norman said. “As a result, threatened species such as royal spoonbills and Australasian bitterns as well as frogs, brolga, ducks and magpie geese have returned to the wetland.

“As well as supporting wildlife, the wetland helps reduce nutrient and sediment discharge from the surrounding farm land entering Broken Creek, improving water quality for the creek’s native fish population and for downstream communities and irrigators.  In addition, this infrastructure allowed us to deliver water for the environment to the wetland after the devastating 2014 fires, which helped this important environmental and recreational site recover.”

The last time water for the environment was delivered to the wetland was late 2015.

Environmental water entitlements are subject to the same conditions in regards to allocations and carryover as water for irrigators and other users. Therefore, in dry years, watering actions focus on a few targeted priority wetlands that will provide refuge for wildlife.

Kinnaird’s Wetland is managed by the Goulburn Broken CMA, Goulburn-Murray Water and Moira Shire Council.  Timing of the environmental flow is in line with the Victorian Environmental Water Holder’s Seasonal Watering Plan 2018-19 and takes into consideration delivery orders by irrigators and other water users, weather conditions and feedback from the community via the Goulburn Broken CMA’s environmental water advisory groups.  

Providing water for the environment is only one way the Goulburn Broken CMA works with the community to protect and improve rivers and wetlands. Fencing and revegetation, erosion control, pest control, returning logs to rivers (re-snagging) for fish and bug habitat, and installation of fish ways to allow fish to pass through dams and weirs also help. Find out more about these activities at www.gbcma.vic.gov.au