Environmental water is water legally set aside to protect or improve the environmental values of wetlands and streams. Environmental water entitlements are held by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH), the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA).
This water is held in storages and can be released to meet specific environmental needs. Like other water entitlements, the volume available varies in any given year due to seasonal conditions including rainfall and catchment runoff.
In the Goulburn Broken Catchment, urban and rural water authorities are required to provide passing flows down the Goulburn River, Broken River, Seven Creeks, Sunday Creek, Delatite River and Yea River. Passing flows are the volume of water that urban and rural water authorities are required to release from a storage or provide at a particular point along a stream before consumptive water can be taken.
Above cap water is the water that is available once limits on consumptive volumes of surface water and groundwater have been reached or unregulated flows and spills from storages generated by heavy rainfall. Water delivered down streams and channels to urban, rural and irrigation water users (consumptive water on route) can also be used to benefit the environment.
In the Goulburn Broken Catchment, consumptive water en route is often used to benefit the environmental values of the Goulburn River and lower Broken Creek. This can reduce the amount of actual environmental water allocations required by these streams.