The Goulburn River flows for 570km from the Great Dividing Range upstream of Woods Point to the Murray River east of Echuca. It is a recognised heritage river because of its significant environmental, recreational and cultural values. The river and its associated floodplain and wetlands support large areas of river red gum forest and numerous threatened species including Murray cod, trout cod, golden perch, freshwater catfish, squirrel glider and eastern great egret. It also contains important cultural heritage sites, provides water for agriculture and urban centres and supports recreational activities such as fishing, boating, camping and canoeing.
Lake Eildon and the Goulburn Weir have significantly modified the natural flow pattern of the Goulburn River. Low flows now occur in winter and spring downstream of storages while higher flows occur in summer and autumn due to releases to meet irrigation and consumptive demands. The management and subsequent harvesting of water from our rivers has also reduced the number and duration of freshes (flows that produce a substantial rise in river height for a short period, but do not overtop the river bank) and small and medium sized floods.
The Goulburn River below the Goulburn Weir does retain some natural seasonal flow pattern due to tributaries such as the Broken River and Seven Creeks contributing freshes in winter and spring. The diversion of irrigation water at Goulburn Weir during summer and autumn creates lower flows downstream of Goulburn Weir at the time of year when lower flows would have occurred naturally.
The delivery of environmental water flows the Goulburn River aims to restore some of the natural flow patterns that have been removed through river regulation. Currently water for the environment targets from Goulburn Weir to the Murray River between Lake Eildon and the Goulburn Weir.
Goulburn River priority watering actions include:
- Year round base flows (low flows) to provide habitat and movement opportunities for large and small-bodied native fish, and provide food and habitat for water bugs.
- Spring and summer freshes to trigger golden perch movement and breeding.
- Spring, summer, autumn and winter freshes to support the establishment of bank vegetation and maintain instream habitat for aquatic plants, water bugs and fish by scouring pools, submerging snags, and replenishing slackwater.
Any further information regarding proposed watering actions for the Goulburn River can be obtained by contacting the GB CMA.