Goulburn Broken CMA staff are liaising with partner agencies to monitor water quality in creeks, rivers and wetlands across the catchment after two months of average to below-average rainfall and run-off.
“With forecasts of another couple of dry months ahead, there is a strong chance that flows in many of the smaller creeks and some Goulburn and Broken River tributaries will be very low or may even stop,” Mr Casanelia said.
The main risk to native fish is a drop in oxygen levels in the water and becoming stranded in small, unconnected pools.
“Native fish and other aquatic wildlife generally try and move to shaded areas and deeper water during warmer weather, which is why the work we’ve done with the community to re-snag and revegetate waterways is so important,” Mr Casanelia said. “Improving and protecting the bank vegetation that provides this valuable shelter was the main reason water for the environment was delivered along the lower Goulburn River recently. Reedy, Black and Gaynor swamps and Kinnaird’s wetland have also received water for the environment this year and they will provide valuable refuge for wildlife if conditions do remain hot and dry.”
Mr Casanelia said similarly dry conditions were experienced in late 2015/early 2016 and sections of a number of creeks, including Seven and Hughes, dried out.
“Unfortunately we may see this happen again,” he said. “We are also monitoring Broken River and the upper Broken Creek as there has been little or no inflows or run-off into these waterways in recent months.”
There is also an increased chance of blackwater if there are heavy summer storms.
“This is most likely to occur if there is heavy rain and flash flooding in the Strathbogie area and surrounding floodplains, which can wash leaf litter and other debris into the creeks that then flow into the Goulburn River,” Mr Casanelia said.
The last time there was a blackwater event in the Goulburn River was in January 2017. Fortunately, extra water was available and was released from Goulburn Weir to help improve water quality. Environmental flows since have also helped native fish populations bounce back.
Information about activities Goulburn Broken CMA supports to improve waterway health can be found at www.gbcma.vic.gov.au or phone 5822 7700. Information on river and stream flows can be accessed via the Bureau of Meteorology’s website www.bom.gov.au