Lower Goulburn River winter environmental water release cancelled

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA), in consultation with Goulburn Murray Water (GMW), the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) and the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH), has cancelled a winter fresh (increased flow) proposed for the Goulburn River this month.

Goulburn Broken CMA CEO Chris Norman said the environmental water release was cancelled due to recent wet conditions in the Goulburn River region, which meant a managed environmental water release was not required at this time.

“Given the recent good winter rainfall, run off and river conditions, as well as the forecast for more rain in the coming days, it was not considered appropriate to deliver this flow at this time,” Mr Norman said.

“Many of the objectives of our proposed winter fresh, such as watering bank vegetation, increasing habitat for waterbugs and fish, and improving water quality, will now be achieved by natural river flows.
“When the conditions and timing are right, environmental water will be used to deliver a base flow of around 1,000 ML a day if unregulated flows fall below this rate. Further environmental flows are proposed for spring to improve vegetation, trigger seed dispersal and germination, fish spawning, and increase fish and waterbug habitat.”

Mr Norman said the cancellation was a result of robust risk management processes undertaken by the environmental watering program partners to manage any potential third party impacts.

“As is standard practice, the agencies involved in delivering and planning the flow monitor weather and river conditions continually in the lead up to these types of planned flows. In planning for the fresh, the outlook for this winter was for much drier conditions and lower tributary flows than we are currently experiencing,” he said.

“In this case, the proposed extra water that would flow from the Goulburn River increased the risk of floodplain inundation downstream along the Murray River, which is also high as a result of recent rain. This, along with the fact natural flows are now expected to achieve our objectives, is why we cancelled this winter fresh.”

Environmental flows are planned by the Goulburn Broken CMA, in partnership with GMW, the CEWH and VEWH.   Environmental water releases for the Goulburn River are made in line with VEWH’s Seasonal Watering Plan 2014-15.

For more information about proposed environmental flows along the Goulburn River and other waterways in the catchment, see VEWH’s Seasonal Watering Plan 2014-15 at www.vewh.vic.gov.au