Commonwealth Environmental Water Office
Northern Victorian Rivers annual water use options 2012-13
This factsheet provides an overview of Northern Victorian rivers water use options for 2012-13. More detail about these options is on Annual Water Use Options 2012-13: Northern Victorian rivers.
The Northern Victorian rivers, all of which are tributaries to the Murray River, include the Ovens, Goulburn-Broken, Campaspe and Loddon rivers. The lower Ovens, Goulburn, Campaspe and Loddon rivers flow through the Victorian Riverina, with the Ovens River (largely unregulated) and Goulburn River (highly regulated) contributing significantly to the water resources of the Murray River.
Water availability for the Northern Victorian rivers in 2012-13
The Northern Victorian rivers, together with the lower Murray River valley, mid-Murray region and Murrumbidgee River catchment, form the southern connected basin. These systems are not managed in isolation from each other due to their high connectivity. Complementary water use options are developed in these catchments to achieve multiple benefits across the southern connected basin.
Up to 1,030 gigalitres of Commonwealth environmental water will be available for use across the southern connected basin during 2012-13. Up to 444 gigalitres of this Commonwealth environmental water will be available for use in the Northern Victorian rivers (including 235 gigalitres from the Victorian Murray). Information about the overall management of the Commonwealth environmental water holdings including options for carry over and trade, can be found in the Portfolio management statement at Portfolio Management Statement 2012-13: Northern Victorian rivers
Why is environmental water required in the Namoi River valley?
The Northern Victorian rivers require environmental water to protect and restore the rivers, wetlands and floodplains within this area. 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.
These rivers provide supporting flows to downstream areas which include wetlands of international importance (Kerang Wetlands, Barmah-Millewa Forest and Gunbower Forest). These rivers also provide breeding sites for waterbirds including brolgas and habitat for a number of migratory birds. Native fish, including Macquarie perch and Murray rainbowfish, and other animals such as platypus, waterbirds, insects, frogs and reptiles also depend on healthy rivers within this area for their survival. White box, yellow box, box-ironbark and red gum woodlands as well as cane-grass wetlands are also important plant communities in this area.
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.
What do we want to achieve in 2012-13?
The aim of Commonwealth environmental watering in 2012-13 is to support the ongoing environmental recovery following the breaking of the decade-long drought in spring 2010. Widespread rainfall over the past year has improved the environmental conditions for many of the plants and animals found throughout the Northern Victorian rivers. During 2012-13 Commonwealth environmental water will contribute to maintaining the health of native plant and animal communities in riverbank and floodplain areas. It will also help to improve the migration and breeding of native fish throughout these rivers and the Murray River.
The location of this area within the southern connected basin provides the best possibility for achieving a range of environmental benefits across multiple sites through close work with staff from state agencies, industry and landowners to ensure that the proposed water use options take into account issues such as operational constraints and local environmental conditions.
Some options for environmental water use in the Northern Victorian rivers
Examples of proposed watering options in this catchment during 2012-13 include providing river flows in the:
- Goulburn River to support the habitat requirements of native plants and animals in the river and contribute to environmental benefits in the lower Murray River
- Loddon River to support the breeding of native plants and animals, particularly native fish. This will contribute to improving the connection of the river to downstream floodplains
- Campaspe River to contribute to improving the connection of the river to the lower Murray River and improving water quality
- Broken River, upper Broken Creek and Lower Broken Creek to contribute to flows that maintain healthy native plant and animal communities, provide fish passage and habitat in lower Broken Creek, and contribute to environmental benefits in the lower Murray River
- Ovens River to contribute to supporting healthy native plant and animal communities further downstream.
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, the Victorian catchment management authorities, Goulburn-Murray Water, and the Victorian Environmental Water Holder.
Each water use 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