For the first time in Victoria a privately owned wetland has been flooded using water donated by an investment fund.
The purposeful flooding is part of a scheme supported by the Murray-Darling Basin Balanced Water Fund, a body which seeks to tackle water scarcity in the Murray-Darling Basin.
The fund is a unique partnership between The Nature Conservancy, the Murray-Darling Wetlands Working Group and Kilter Rural.
Jamie Fitzsimons from The Nature Conservancy explained the fund buys and sells water, setting some aside for environmental purposes.
“The fund works with irrigators to purchase and lease water rights with the dual objectives of providing secure water to agriculture and restoring important wetlands,” Mr Fitzsimons said.
“When water is scarce and agricultural demand is higher, the fund makes more water available to farmers but when water is plentiful and demand is lower, more is allocated to private wetlands,” he said.
Up to 185 megalitres of water will be used to replenish a thirsty lagoon at Yambuna in northern Victoria.
The Goulburn Broken CMA’s Environmental Water and Wetlands manager Simon Casanelia said the wetland was home to a number of threatened species.
“This wetland supports a whole variety of different wetland birds and plants. When the water has finished being delivered it’s going to be spectacular,” Mr Casanelia said.
He said the GB CMA helped facilitate a relationship between the landowner and the fund.
“We’re all seeking the same outcome. That is to see improvements in the health of the wetland and this is another avenue available to us to achieve that,” he said.
Yambuna Lagoon owner, Jamie McMaster said he was delighted to see the lagoon coming back to life as it flooded.
“We’ve seen some amazing sights. A turtle nest and baby turtles, rare birds and native plants,” Mr McMaster said.
The landowner said he welcomed the inundation of water to his billabong because it would have flow-on public benefits.
“This wetland feeds the billabongs in the national park so when this floods, the water will flow into those lagoons and the whole of Australia can benefit from that park and the resource it presents.”
So far the Murray-Darling Basin Balanced Water Fund has raised $34m in capital investment and pledges.
The water is being delivered in partnership with the Murray-Darling Basin Wetlands Working Group, Goulburn Broken CMA, Parks Victoria, Victorian Environmental Water Holder and Goulburn-Murray Water.