Environmental watering 2012-13
Up to 60 GL of Commonwealth environmental water has been made available for use in the Edward-Wakool River System in New South Wales, during 2012-13.
The Edward-Wakool River System is an anabranch and floodplain system of the Murray River, which covers more than 1,000 square kilometres of inter-connecting rivers, creeks, floodrunners and wetlands. The system diverges from the Murray River in Millewa Forest, and rejoins near Kyalite in southern New South Wales.
Commonwealth environmental water will be delivered in conjunction with water supplied by the New South Wales Government. Commonwealth environmental water will be used to provide a number of instream pulses delivered between spring 2012 and autumn 2013. Target creeks and rivers may include the Edward and Wakool rivers, and Yallakool and Colligen creeks. The use of environmental water is expected to:
Photo: Arthur Mostead © Murray Catchment Management Authority
- Support the movement, breeding and recruitment of native fish (such as Murray cod, and golden and silver perch).
- Support the habitat requirements of native fish and other native species including frogs, turtles and invertebrates.
- Support ecosystem functions that relate to the connectivity of habitats along the watercourse.
The use of Commonwealth environmental water will help build on the outcomes of environmental water provided to the Edward-Wakool River System in previous years. For example, preliminary results from the monitoring of environmental watering in Colligen Creek have indicated that environmental flows contributed to increased numbers of the native carp gudgeon, higher dissolved oxygen levels, and a decrease in the risk of blackwater. Environmental water was also considered to create a positive response by phytoplankton and biofilm algal biomass.
Environmental water delivery will be managed by the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, in cooperation with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, Murray Catchment Management Authority, State Water Corporation, the Murray Darling Basin Authority, and Murray Irrigation Limited.
Local community groups such as the Wakool River Association, and Edward-Wakool Angling Association, have been part of planning for these environmental flows. The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office works with the Murray Catchment Management Authority and New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage to seek local knowledge and community input to assist in planning and identifying opportunities to deliver environmental flows for native fish in the Edward-Wakool River system.
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office has engaged Charles Sturt University to undertake a monitoring program in the Edward-Wakool system in 2012-13 in collaboration with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Murray Catchment Management Authority, Monash University, New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage and the Wakool River Association. The monitoring program will assess ecosystem responses to environmental watering using a set of ecological indicators including fish, frogs, vegetation and water quality. The program will build on previous monitoring undertaken in the system since 2010.
What makes this place so special and why Commonwealth environmental water is used here?
- The Edward-Wakool River System is recognised as a significant breeding and recruitment ground for many aquatic species in the Murray River system. In particular it provides important refuge habitat that supports a high number and diversity of native fish species, including large populations of Murray cod and silver perch at the Murray River scale.
- The river system supports a number of endangered and vulnerable native species of mammals, birds, frogs, reptiles and plants, including the Superb Parrot, brolga, the Southern bell frog, Murray cod, trout cod, and silver perch.
- The river system supports areas of river red gum, black box and lignum, particularly along Colligen Creek, the Niemur River and the mid-reaches of the Wakool River.
Environmental watering 2011-12
In March 2012, 59.6 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was made available for use in the Edward-Wakool River System, New South Wales. In total 39.4 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was delivered to the Edward River, Wakool River and Yallakool Creek in conjunction with 0.3 GL of water provided by the New South Wales Government.
The water was used to provide and maintain important refuge habitat for remnant fish populations, particularly Murray cod, from hypoxic blackwater (water containing low levels of oxygen) that can severely impact fish.
Commonwealth environmental water was delivered using Murray Irrigation Limited infrastructure, and continued from water delivered by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
This watering action also contributed to the outcomes of environmental watering in the mid-Murray River system (refuge habitat and replenishment flows).
The watering action was managed in cooperation with the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Murray Catchment Management Authority, New South Wales Office of Water, State Water Corporation, and Murray Irrigation Limited.
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