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Lower Goulburn River Bank Condition Monitoring Commences

Researchers have commenced a program to monitor bank erosion along the lower Goulburn River.

The monitoring program is funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian Environmental Water Holders for five years and aims to assess whether there is any influence from environmental flow deliveries on rates of bank erosion.

Dr Geoff Vietz from Streamology, who are conducting the monitoring, said the information collected from the program will help determine if environmental flow deliveries contribute to bank erosion by accelerating natural rates of erosion, and if so how they might be modified to reduce their impact.

“Bank erosion is a dynamic and natural process that helps to create a diverse range of physical habitats for native vegetation, fish and bugs,” Mr Vietz said. “However, accelerated rates of bank erosion can have an impact on water quality and result in the loss of valuable riparian and agricultural land.”

A total of 200 erosion pins have been inserted into the bank at four locations along the lower Goulburn River between Murchison and the Murray River. The erosion pins are remeasured up to 6 times a year to quantify rates of bank recession. Qualitative visual assessments of bank erosion are also made to determine the main mechanisms of erosion.

Simon Casanelia from the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority said the CMA is hopeful the results of the monitoring program will identify opportunities for further refinement of the planning and delivery of environmental water.

“Currently, the height of environmental deliveries down the Goulburn River are varied and their rate of rise and fall are controlled to reduce their potential impact on bank erosion,” Mr Casanelia said.

“The Goulburn Broken CMA is delivering environmental water down the lower Goulburn River to promote the growth and establishment of bank vegetation, which will help reduce the potential for erosion.

“The loss of bank vegetation through over grazing, drought and floods has weakened the ability of the river bank to resist the erosive forces of high flows.”

The river bank condition monitoring is part of a broader monitoring program funded by the Commonwealth and State Governments that is also evaluating the impact of environmental water deliveries on native fish, instream metabolism, riparian vegetation and macro-invertebrates along the lower Goulburn River.

The Victorian Environmental Water Holder prioritises environmental water releases in the Goulburn River as part of its Seasonal Watering Plan 2014-15 , which aims to improve river and wetland health across the State.

For further information please contact Simon Casanelia at the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority on 5822 7700.

Simon Casanelia from the Goulburn Broken CMA at one of the four monitoring sites along the Goulburn River