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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage

31 March 1999

STONE WELCOMES CAMPASPE RIVER STUDY


A federally funded study into the environmental flow regime of the Campaspe River in Northern Victoria aims to help to improve water quality, reduce salinity and siltation, and restore native fish stocks, Sharman Stone MP, Federal Member for Murray and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, said today.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology (CRC) is undertaking a three year study to monitor the environmental effects of a trial winter flow of water specifically released in the months between May and October.

"Around 25% of the inflow to Lake Eppalock will be released and carefully studied to assess its environmental impact and improve information about the River's future management," Mrs Stone said.

"The trial will restore something akin to the Campaspe's naturally occurring flow, helping to revive wetlands and riverine plant life."

Over the past few years, the Campaspe River's natural summer flow has been tripled, while winter flows have been halved.

Highly regulated flows, such as the Campaspe's, tend to favour Carp and their spawning. In the Murray Darling River system, Carp account for around 80% of the total fish community.

"Carp are a highly destructive pests that cause serious environmental damage including turbidity, destruction of aquatic plants, riverbank erosion and tree loss, salinity, loss of native fish and increased algal blooms."

"There is some evidence that increasing environmental flows will improve the habitat for native fish stocks such as Macquarie Perch, Catfish, Gudgeons, Galaxias and Murray Cod, and reduce the number of European Carp plaguing the Campaspe."

"This is good news for the environment and for local farmers who rely on healthy, clean water from the Campaspe for irrigation and agricultural development."

Under the trial regime, flows during the summer irrigation season will remain unaltered.

"This is very important given the value of irrigated agriculture to the region," Mrs Stone said.

The winter release will be dependent upon Lake Eppalock's storage capacity remaining above 200,000 megalitres, about 64% of the lake's capacity.

Over the past two years scientists from the CRC have carefully mapped the River's existing plant and animal life. This preliminary survey will be used as a baseline for the three-year trial environmental flow regime study.

The CRC estimates that up to 80% of total flows in the Murray-Darling River system have been diverted for agricultural, industrial and domestic use.

"This study is the first of its type in Australia and will help us identify important new information about the Campaspe's environmental flow regime. It is vital information that will help to improve the health of our rivers and waterways," Mrs Stone said.

For further information please contact:
Nicole Johnston, Assistant Adviser, 02 6277 2016 or 0419 219 415

Commonwealth of Australia