Commonwealth Environmental Water Office
Lachlan River catchment annual water use options 2012-13
This factsheet provides an overview of Lachlan River water use options for 2012-13. More detail about these options is on Annual Water Use Options 2012-13: Lachlan River Catchment .
The Lachlan River catchment is located within NSW. It starts between Yass and Goulburn in the Great Dividing Range and then meanders inland to terminate in the nationally significant Great Cumbung Swamp in south-west NSW.
Water availability for the Lachlan River catchment in 2012-13
Up to 87 gigalitres of Commonwealth environmental water will be available for use in the Lachlan River catchment during 2012-13. Information about the overall management of the Commonwealth environmental water holdings including options for carryover and trade can be found in the Portfolio management statement at Portfolio Management Statement 2012-13: Lachlan River Catchment
What do we want to achieve in 2012-13?
The aim of Commonwealth environmental watering in the Lachlan River catchment during 2012-13 will be to support the ongoing environmental recovery that commenced following the breaking of the 2000-10 drought. For some parts of the catchment, this will mean providing river flows to contribute to supporting the health of native plant communities in wetlands, the riverbank areas and on floodplains. This aims to provide good quality habitat in which native animals can successfully breed and grow. For other parts of the catchment, this means making decisions not to provide water to sites that require a drying phase.
These priorities are potentially competing when planning large scale water use options that may include multiple sites. The aim is to obtain the best environmental benefits associated with both wetting and drying phases at as many sites as possible.
To achieve these environmental benefits we will continue to work closely with staff from state agencies, industry and landowners within the catchment to ensure that the proposed water use options take into account operational and management considerations and local environmental conditions.
Why is environmental water required in the Lachlan River catchment?
The Lachlan River catchment requires environmental water to protect and restore the river, its wetlands and floodplains. Environmental water provides more natural flow patterns to the Murray-Darling Basin river system, this in turn contributes to the wellbeing of regional communities who depend on sustainable water management to support healthy rivers, strong communities and productive economies.
The Lachlan River catchment contains a number of nationally significant and diverse wetlands, such as the Booligal Wetlands and the Lachlan Swamps. These wetlands provide important habitat for native fish, including the Murray cod, southern pygmy perch and purple spotted gudgeon. Migratory waterbirds such as glossy ibis and great egrets, as well as insects, frogs, turtles and the endangered river snail, are among the native animals that also find refuge in the wetlands. River red gum forests, black box woodland, river cooba, common reed and lignum are important plants in this catchment.
Commonwealth environmental watering in 2012- 13 aims to build on the benefits of watering from previous years. Details about Commonwealth environmental watering events and outcomes from previous years can be found in our Annual reports and Outcomes reports at publication section.
Some options for environmental water use in the Lachlan River catchment
Examples of proposed watering options in this catchment during 2012-13 include:
- River flows and floodplain inundation in the Lachlan River channel and wetlands to provide suitable habitat for fish, frogs, turtles and other native animals to support their breeding and increase their numbers.
- River flows and wetland and floodplain inundation in the Willandra Creek, Merrowie Creek, Booligal Wetlands, Lachlan Swamps (Lake Waljeers and Peppermint Swamp) and the Great Cumbung Swamp to maintain and improve the health of native plants in riverbank, floodplain and wetland areas, while also providing good quality habitat for waterbird breeding.
These options will only be implemented if the high natural inflows experienced in early 2012 do not achieve the proposed environmental objectives for the catchment. The need for Commonwealth environmental water will become clearer as more information on the environmental responses becomes available.
How were the environmental water use options developed?
A range of annual water use options has been developed for each catchment where the Commonwealth holds environmental water. All options have been developed based on advice from stakeholders including the Commonwealth's Environmental Water Scientific Advisory Panel and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. The views of local bodies such as the Lachlan Riverine Working Group have also been considered.
Each option contributes to meeting the overall environmental objectives of the Proposed Basin Plan – A revised draft, released on 28 May 2012. The options do not represent a commitment for water use. Decisions on Commonwealth environmental water use will be made throughout the year after an assessment of the seasonal, operational and management conditions at the time. Water use planning and operations will also be updated once the Basin Plan is made.
How can you be involved?
Local groups, state governments and others are working with us to manage Commonwealth environmental water by giving advice on where it can be best used and helping to deliver the water and monitor outcomes. The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office welcomes information from the community on how environmental water can best be managed including further suggestions on the water use options.
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For further information on the management and use of Commonwealth environmental water please visit publication section