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Environmental water delivery: Gunbower Forest

Commonwealth Environmental Water, 2012
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WAT086.0211a

Environmental water delivery: Gunbower Forest collates current knowledge of the operational and administrative arrangements for the delivery of environmental water to the Gunbower Forest and provides an overview of the environmental assets and potential environmental water use options for the forest. This work has been undertaken to support the efficient and effective use of environmental water and to engage communities on how this may best be achieved. This aims to encourage community discussion and feedback on the use of environmental water, to identify future opportunities and recognise operational risks and constraints. Comments on the document are encouraged and can be provided to: ewater@environment.gov.au.

Introduction

Increased volumes of environmental water are now becoming available in the Murray-Darling Basin and this will allow a larger and broader program of environmental watering. It is particularly important that managers of environmental water seek regular input and suggestions from the community as to how we can achieve the best possible approach. As part of the consultation process for Commonwealth environmental water we are seeking information on:

  • community views of environmental assets and the health of these assets
  • the prioritisation of environmental water use
  • partnership arrangements for the management of environmental water
  • possible arrangements for the monitoring, evaluation and reporting (MER) of environmental water use.

This document has been prepared to provide information on the environmental assets and potential environmental water use in Gunbower Forest. As the first version of the document, it is intended to provide a starting point for discussions on environmental water use. As such, suggestions and feedback are encouraged and will be used to inform planning for environmental water use and future iterations of the document.

Gunbower Forest supports significant conservation values including numerous threatened native flora and fauna, as well as bird species protected under international migratory bird agreements. In addition, Gunbower Forest has been recognised as a wetland of international significance under the Ramsar Convention. Potential water-use options for Gunbower Forest include the provision of inflows during winter, spring and summer to maintain riparian vegetation and aquatic habitat for fish, invertebrates, turtles and birds by filling wetlands and watercourses throughout the forest. Provision of passing flows at Koondrook Weir will also maintain fish passage at Gunbower Creek weirs and provide aquatic habitat in lower Gunbower Creek to support local fish populations.

A key aim in undertaking this work was to prepare scalable water-use strategies that maximise the efficiency of water use and anticipate different climatic circumstances. Operational opportunities and constraints have been identified and delivery options prepared. This has been done in a manner that will assist the community and environmental water managers in considering the issues and developing multi-year water-use plans.

The work has been undertaken by consultants on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Previously prepared work has been drawn upon and discussions have occurred with organisations such as the North Central Catchment Management Authority and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Management of environmental water will be an adaptive process. There will always be areas of potential improvement. Comments and suggestions including on possible partnership arrangements are very welcome and can be provided directly to: ewater@environment.gov.au. Further information about Commonwealth environmental water can be found at Commonwealth Environmental Water website.

Commonwealth Environmental Water
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601
Tel: +61 2 6275 9245