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News: 2011-12

Caution: archived content

This content may have been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

June 2012

New fact sheets available

18 June 2012 Carryover information fact sheets have been released to provide information on the carryover of Commonwealth environmental water in the

These groupings of catchments have been selected because they cover most of the Commonwealth environmental water holdings and illustrate the three main models of carryover rules in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Commonwealth Environmental Water Office will report each year on the volume of water that has been carried over on each entitlement type held by the Commonwealth in the Basin and provide comparisons with the carryover of other users.

Other Fact sheets:

Trading of Commonwealth environmental water – summary of submissions to the discussion paper

5 June 2012 A discussion paper on trade of Commonwealth environmental water was released for consultation between November 2011 and May 2012. Forty three submissions were received on the discussion paper from a range of stakeholders including national and state industry groups, irrigation corporations, state government agencies, water brokers and individuals. As the process of developing trading arrangements is ongoing, we welcome feedback, both formal and informal, on trading arrangements at any stage.

For more information see: Summary of submissions to the discussion paper on trade of Commonwealth environmental water

May 2012

Environmental Water Delivery documents - update

18 May 2012 Commonwealth Environmental Water Office has released four new Environmental Water Delivery documents. In total, 12 Environmental Water Delivery documents have been released that provide information about environmental water delivery in catchments across the Murray-Darling Basin. These documents collate current knowledge of the operational and administrative arrangements for the delivery of environmental water and provide an overview of the environmental assets and potential environmental water use options for each catchment. Comments on these documents are encouraged and can be provided to: ewater@environment.gov.au

For more information see: Publications

Monitoring of ecosystem responses to the delivery of environmental water in the Murrumbidgee system - Report 2

18 May 2012 Commonwealth Environmental Water Office engaged Charles Sturt University to monitor the ecological response to the environmental water release that took place in the Murrumbidgee River in June 2011. The final report detailing the outcomes of the watering action is now available.

For more information see: Monitoring of ecosystem responses to the delivery of environmental water in the Murrumbidgee system - Report 2

Commonwealth Environmental Water – Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI) Framework

17 May 2012 Commonwealth Environmental Water Office released a Framework for monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement for the use of Commonwealth environmental water. This framework incorporates comments from a range of stakeholders provided following the release of a discussion paper in June 2011 and will be amended from time to time, including to remain consistent with the final Basin Plan. Implementation of the MERI framework has commenced and MERI activities will continue to inform annual outcomes reporting.

For more information see: Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement Framework

Shepherding of Environmental Water in NSW Unregulated Streams – Public Consultation

16 May 2012 NSW Office of Water released a report "Proposed arrangements for shepherding environmental water in NSW – Draft for consultation" on 14 May 2011. The Commonwealth and NSW Governments entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (PDF - 3.5 MB) in relation to shepherding of water for the environment in July 2010.

The report presents an analysis of options for water shepherding in unregulated streams in NSW as a basis of consultation. A key principle guiding the development of the water shepherding approach is that third party impacts – including impacts on the rights of other water users – must be avoided, whilst protecting the passage of environmental water.

Submissions are welcome and can be made via the online submission form, or print submission form (PDF - 124 KB) by 2 July 2012.

For more information see:

Trading of Commonwealth environmental water - submissions period for responses to the discussion paper has now closed

14 May 2012 The submissions period for responses to the discussion paper on trading Commonwealth environmental water closed on 11 May 2012. However, as the process of developing trading arrangements is ongoing, we welcome feedback, both formal and informal, on trading arrangements at any stage.

For more information see: Discussion paper – Trading of Commonwealth environmental water

April 2012

Trading of Commonwealth environmental water – 2 week extension for submissions on discussion paper

24 April 2012 Commonwealth Environmental Water Office appreciates the significant effort that stakeholders have recently put into consultations and submissions on the draft Murray Darling Basin Plan. In response to stakeholder' requests for more time for responses to the discussion paper on trading Commonwealth environmental water, a 2 week extension has been made available. Responses to the discussion paper are now sought by 11 May 2012.

For more information see: Discussion paper – Trading of Commonwealth environmental water

Environmental watering in the lower Murrumbidgee River – update to watering action

19 April 2012 Commonwealth environmental water has been made available to provide refuge habitats for remnant native fish and other aquatic animals during the blackwater event in the lower Murrumbidgee system.

For more information see: Environmental watering in the lower Murrumbidgee River

Environmental watering in the mid-Murray River system (fish refuge habitat and replenishment flows)

19 April 2012 Commonwealth environmental water has been made available to help reduce the impacts of very low dissolved oxygen blackwater entering the Murray River from the Murrumbidgee River, by supplying fresh water flows from Hume Dam to provide fish refuge habitat.

For more information see: Watering in the mid-Murray River system (fish refuge habitat and replenishment flows)

Environmental watering in the Goulburn River extended to January 2013

19 April 2012 Up to 231,937 ML of Commonwealth environmental water has been made available for use in the Goulburn River in Victoria between April 2012 and January 2013. Environmental water will be used to complement natural flows in the Goulburn River and support the ongoing recovery of river-dependent native animals and plants. In the short term, this action will also contribute towards flows into the River Murray that is aimed at providing aquatic habitat refuges at risk due to hypoxic blackwater entering the system from the Murrumbidgee River.

For more information see: Environmental watering in the Goulburn River

Environmental watering in the Edward-Wakool river system (fish refuge habitat flows)

11 April 2012 Up to 59.6 GL of Commonwealth environmental water has been made available to help reduce the impacts of very low dissolved oxygen blackwater, by providing fish refuge habitat in the Edward-Wakool river system.

For more information see: Environmental watering in the Edward-Wakool river system

Media release: Environmental water to help avert blackwater impacts in the Edward-Wakool system - 11 April 2012 (PDF - 158.06 KB) | (DOCX - 52.36 KB)

March 2012

2011-12 Commonwealth environmental water use – status 8 March 2012

8 March 2012 As at the end of February 2012, the total volume of Commonwealth water used during 2011-12 is 403 gigalitres across 12 catchments. Heavy rainfall has significantly changed catchment conditions throughout the Basin and a number of environmental watering actions have been suspended.

For example, environmental watering in the Lower Murray was suspended on 3 February 2012 because of expected increased flows from the Darling River associated with high northern Basin rainfall in early February. Environmental watering in the Murrumbidgee ceased at the end of February when forecasts predicted high inflows that resulted in major flooding. Watering actions are continually reviewed to ensure they are appropriate given changing circumstances.

February 2012

Request for information on water market services

23 February 2012 A discussion paper on the trade of Commonwealth environmental water has been released for public comment. In response to this paper, some water market intermediaries have asked whether we would be interested in receiving information on the services that could be provided by water market intermediaries. Commonwealth Environmental Water Office welcomes further information on the services that could be provided by water market intermediaries.

For more information see: Request for information on water market services

Commonwealth Environmental Water 2010-11 Outcomes Report

22 February 2012 The Commonwealth Environmental Water 2010-11 Outcomes Report was released showing early results from water use including impacts on particular plant and animal species. The results are important as they are indicators of wider river and wetland health and associated benefits.

For more information see: Commonwealth Environmental Water 2010-11 Outcomes Report

Environmental watering in the lower Murrumbidgee River

20 February 2012: 65.2 GL of Commonwealth environmental water has been made available in the lower Murrumbidgee River to increase the connection of the North Redbank Wetlands and the Murrumbidgee River and to restore hydrologic (habitat) diversity along the Murrumbidgee River by providing a more natural medium summer/autumn pulse flow.

For more information see: Environmental watering in the lower Murrumbidgee River

Environmental water delivery: Wakool River and Colligen Creek

15 February 2012 7.5 gigalitres of Commonwealth environmental water has been made available to the Wakool River and Colligen Creek in the Edward-Wakool river system. The environmental water will be delivered to each of the water courses throughout February and March 2012 to benefit the riverine ecosystem and provide opportunities for small bodied fish to access important feeding and breeding habitat.

For more information see: Environmental watering in the Wakool River and Colligen Creek (Edward-Wakool river system)

Environmental water delivery: Jimaringle-Cockran Creek

15 February 2012 3 gigalitres of Commonwealth environmental water has been made available to the Jimaringle – Cockran Creek in the Edward-Wakool river system. The environmental water is planned to be delivered in March and April 2012 to improve water quality and benefit the vegetation in the system, in particular the riparian river red gums.

For more information see: Environmental watering in Jimaringle-Cockran Creek (Edward-Wakool river system)

Environmental water delivery: Lachlan River

1 February 2012 Commonwealth Environmental Water Office today released Environmental Water Delivery: Lachlan River. The document is a collation of current knowledge of the operational and administrative arrangements for the delivery of environmental water to the Lachlan River and provides an overview of the environmental assets and potential environmental water use options for the catchment. Comments on the document are encouraged and can be provided to: ewater@environment.gov.au

For more information see: Environmental water delivery: Lachlan River

January 2012

Environmental watering in the Lower Murray River (South Australia)

12 January 2012 Commonwealth environmental water has been made available to enhance flows to South Australia until mid 2012. This environmental water will to help manage the recession from high flows during late December/early January and ensure that river levels decrease gradually from the recent peak. This will complement existing environmental watering actions in the Goulburn River and lower Broken Creek. It aims to support the management and improvement of aquatic habitat in the Murray River channel, Lower Lakes and Coorong, with increased flows provided through the Murray Mouth. In particular, the environmental water will help protect and restore the flora and fauna in the Lower Lakes and Coorong.

For more information see: Environmental watering in the Lower Murray River (South Australia)

December 2011

Environmental watering in lower Broken Creek (Goulburn-Broken Catchment)

23 December 2011 Commonwealth environmental water will be used to contribute to elevated baseflows in lower Broken Creek from December 2011 to May 2012. Enhancing the flows will support native fish habitat, particularly for large-bodied species such as the nationally vulnerable Murray cod.

For more information see: Environmental watering in lower Broken Creek

Environmental Water Delivery: Lower Goulburn River

19 December 2011 Commonwealth Environmental Water Office today released Environmental Water Delivery: Lower Goulburn River. The document is a collation of current knowledge of the operational and administrative arrangements for the delivery of environmental water to the Lower Goulburn River and provides an overview of the environmental assets and potential environmental water use options for the catchment. Comments on the document are encouraged and can be provided to: ewater@environment.gov.au

For more information see: Environmental water delivery: Lower Goulburn River

Monitoring the June 2011 environmental flows in the Murrumbidgee

8 December 2011 Researchers from Charles Sturt University have provided the first report outlining the ecological responses from the June 2011 environmental flow event in the Murrumbidgee.

For more information see: Monitoring the June 2011 environmental flows in the Murrumbidgee

November 2011

Environmental watering in Telephone Bank and Eulimbah Bank wetlands (Murrumbidgee Catchment)

30 November 2011 Up to 9 GL of Commonwealth environmental water has been made available to support colonial bird breeding events in the Nimmie Caira region of the Lower Murrumbidgee Floodplain, New South Wales. Commonwealth environmental water will be delivered to the Telephone Bank and Eulimbah Bank wetlands in conjunction with environmental water from NSW Office of Environment and Heritage from November 2011 to March 2012.

UPDATE 13 January 2012 The colonial bird breeding events at Telephone Bank and Eulimbah Bank wetlands have been shorter than expected and consequently Commonwealth environmental water will no longer be required to support the events. Environmental watering requirements have been met through the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, which has contributed approximately 8 GL to the events.

Environmental watering in the North Redbank (Murrumbidgee Catchment)

29 November 2011 Up to 15 GL of Commonwealth environmental water has been made available for use in the North Redbank, in the Lower Murrumbidgee floodplain, New South Wales. The purpose of the action is to inundate and maintain water levels to provide breeding habitat for southern bell frogs, the fishing bat and numerous waterbird species including great egret, glossy ibis, blue billed duck and Australasian bittern.

For more information see: Environmental watering in North Redbank

Environmental watering in Colligen Creek

21 November 2011 Up to 5.5 GL of Commonwealth environmental water has been made available for use in Colligen Creek in the Edward-Wakool River system, New South Wales, during 2011-12. The environmental water will be used to gradually raise and then lower flows over 20 days to encourage movement of large bodied native fish and to maintain and enhance instream habitat.

For more information see: Environmental watering in Colligen Creek

Updated time lapse videos of Commonwealth environmental watering in Sunshower Lagoon, Murrumbidgee catchment

17 November 2011 New time lapse videos have been produced using the webcam of Commonwealth environmental watering at Sunshower Lagoon, NSW on the Murrumbidgee River.

Progress Report - Shepherding of Environmental Water in NSW Unregulated Streams

17 November 2011 NSW Office of Water released a progress report "Shepherding water for the environment: Progress of the NSW water shepherding project, 2011" on 16 November 2011. The Commonwealth and NSW Governments entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in relation to shepherding of water for the environment in July 2010. The progress report describes work undertaken to date, including the identification of a preferred option for shepherding in the Barwon-Darling river system upstream of Menindee Lakes. A key principle guiding the development of the water shepherding approach is that third party impacts - including impacts on the rights of other water users - must be avoided, whilst protecting the passage of environmental water.

Environmental watering in the Goulburn River

17 November 2011 Up to 96.9 GL of environmental water has been made available for use in the Goulburn River in Victoria during 2011-12. Commonwealth environmental water will be delivered in conjunction with water from The Living Murray program to improve the health of the Goulburn River.

For more information see: Environmental watering in the Goulburn River

A media release on the action is at: Environmental water to be released down the Goulburn River

Annual Report of Commonwealth Environmental Water 2010-11

17 November 2011 The annual report on the use of Commonwealth environmental water was tabled in Parliament on 31 October 2011.

For more information see: Annual Report of Commonwealth Environmental Water 2010-11

Edward-Wakool Fish Monitoring Project

11 November 2011 Commonwealth Environmental Water Office has been working with Narrandera Fisheries Centre (NSW Department of Primary Industries) and the Murray Catchment Management Authority (CMA), to better understand how fish respond to flows and help better manage the Edward-Wakool river system and environmental flows.

For more information see: Edward-Wakool Fish Monitoring Project

Discussion paper – Trading of Commonwealth environmental water

7 November 2011 Trade of Commonwealth environmental water is an important management option that will assist in improving the capacity of the Commonwealth environmental water holdings to meet environmental objectives. In order to help inform the development of water trading arrangements, a discussion paper on trading Commonwealth environmental water has been released for public comment. Responses to the discussion paper were originally sought by 27 April 2012, but this has now been extended to 11 May 2012.

October 2011

Environmental Water Delivery: Campaspe River

27 October 2011 The department today released Environmental Water Delivery: Campaspe River. The document is a collation of current knowledge of the operational and administrative arrangements for the delivery of environmental water to the Campaspe River and provides an overview of the environmental assets and potential environmental water use options for the catchment. Comments on the document are encouraged and can be provided to: ewater@environment.gov.au.

For more information see: Environmental water delivery: Campaspe River

Environmental watering in the Loddon River

22 October 2011 Up to 2 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was delivered to the Loddon River from 8 June 2011.

For more information see: Environmental watering in the Loddon River

Environmental watering suspended in the Gwydir Wetlands

21 October 2011 Environmental watering for the Gwydir wetlands has been suspended in response to recent rainfall, and the forecast of more rain to come. Catchment conditions are closely monitored and environmental watering actions are adapted in response. The Bureau of Meteorology seasonal outlook  for wet conditions over the next three months diminishes the need for Commonwealth environmental water in the immediate future, and increases the risk that natural river flows from rainfall events could inundate cropped land. Environmental watering will be reviewed later in the year and may recommence as needed to achieve six months inundation of core wetland area.

For more information see: Environmental watering in the Gwydir Wetlands

Environmental watering in the Gwydir Wetlands

12 October 2011 Up to 10 GL of environmental water has been made available by the Commonwealth for use in the Gwydir Wetlands in New South Wales in 2011-12. Commonwealth water will be delivered in conjunction with NSW water and natural flows to inundate as much remnant wetland vegetation as possible for six months from 1 October 2011.

For more information see: Environmental watering in the Gwydir Wetlands

September 2011

Environmental Water Delivery: Koondrook-Perricoota Forest

26 September 2011 The department today released Environmental Water Delivery: Koondrook-Perricoota Forest. The document is a collation of current knowledge of the operational and administrative arrangements for the delivery of environmental water in Koondrook-Perricoota Forest and provides an overview of the environmental assets and potential environmental water use options for the catchment. Comments on the document are encouraged and can be provided to: ewater@environment.gov.au.

For more information see: Environmental water delivery: Koondrook-Perricoota Forest

Environmental Water Delivery: Loddon River

26 September 2011 The department today released Environmental Water Delivery: Loddon River. The document is a collation of current knowledge of the operational and administrative arrangements for the delivery of environmental water to the Loddon River and provides an overview of the environmental assets and potential environmental water use options for the catchment. Comments on the document are encouraged and can be provided to: ewater@environment.gov.au.

For more information see: Environmental water delivery: Loddon River

August 2011

Environmental watering in the Macquarie Marshes

23 August 2011 Up to 35 gigalitres of environmental water has been made available by the Commonwealth for use in the Macquarie Marshes in New South Wales. Commonwealth water will be delivered in conjunction with NSW water to produce a watering action of approximately 130 GL (combined NSW and Commonwealth water) in the Macquarie Marshes, an internationally recognised wetland.

For more information see: Environmental watering in the Macquarie Marshes

Lachlan Catchment - Muggabah Creek environmental watering

18 August 2011 Up to 3.6 gigalitres of Commonwealth environmental water has been made available to provide flows through Muggabah Creek near Booligal in the Lachlan catchment.

These environmental flows are expected to be delivered between August and November 2011, along with an additional 1.3 gigalitres supplied by the New South Wales Government. This will build on current environmental watering activities in the Merrimajeel system that began in early June 2011.

For more information see: Environmental watering in the Booligal Wetlands

Environmental Water Delivery: Lower Broken Creek

17 August 2011 The department today released Environmental Water Delivery: Lower Broken Creek. The document is a collation of current knowledge of the operational and administrative arrangements for the delivery of environmental water in Lower Broken Creek and provides an overview of the environmental assets and potential environmental water use options for the catchment. Comments on the document are encouraged and can be provided to: ewater@environment.gov.au.

For more information see: Environmental water delivery: Lower Broken Creek

Environmental Water Delivery: Yarrawonga to Tocumwal and Barmah-Millewa

11 August 2011 The department today released Environmental Water Delivery: Yarrawonga to Tocumwal and Barmah-Millewa. The document is a collation of current knowledge of the operational and administrative arrangements for the delivery of environmental water to Barmah-Millewa and provides an overview of the environmental assets and potential environmental water use options. Comments on the document are encouraged and can be provided to: ewater@environment.gov.au.

For more information see: Environmental water delivery: Yarrawonga to Tocumwal and Barmah-Millewa

July 2011

Lachlan Catchment - Merrowie Creek environmental watering

8 July 2011 Up to 14.6 gigalitres of environmental water has been made available by the Commonwealth to provide river flows in Merrowie Creek. Delivery of this water for the environment commenced in early June 2011 and will continue until around September 2011. Commonwealth water will be delivered with 5.3 gigalitres from the New South Wales government.

For more information see: Environmental watering in other Lachlan Catchment sites

Lachlan Catchment - Merrimajeel Creek environmental watering

8 July 2011 Up to 7 gigalitres of environmental water has been made available by the Commonwealth to provide river flows in Merrimajeel Creek. Delivery of this water for the environment commenced in early June 2011 and will continue until around September 2011. Commonwealth water will be delivered with 2.5 gigalitres from the New South Wales government.

For more information see the Environmental watering in the Booligal Wetlands

June 2011

Large scale environmental water release for Murrumbidgee wetlands

10 June 2011 - The Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities today announced a large scale environmental water release for Murrumbidgee wetlands.

More than 150 gigalitres of water recovered for the environment will be delivered to hundreds of wetlands along the Murrumbidgee River, benefiting the Murray system as far downstream as South Australia's Lower Lakes and Coorong.

April 2011

April 2011 - Update on approach to Commonwealth environmental watering in 2010-11

The water availability situation in the Murray-Darling Basin continues to develop with ongoing rainfall. In 2010, the Basin experienced its wettest spring on record and record inflows have continued in some catchments through summer 2010-11. This comes after ten years of extreme drought.

Water storages in the Basin are now at or approaching capacity, which means that the majority of the Commonwealth's environmental water entitlements have received high annual allocations.

A larger environmental water portfolio and high allocations will provide a stronger platform to protect or restore the wetlands, rivers and floodplains of the Basin into the future. The larger volumes will provide the opportunity to expand the scope of the environmental watering activities that can be undertaken.

The decision-framework for determining the use of environmental water provides for a variable climate. This framework put in place an approach that allows a rapid response to a change from extreme dry to wet conditions (or vice versa).

Using this framework, large water allocations in extremely wet years (when the environment needs less additional water) can be managed to provide insurance and a buffer for when drier conditions return (and the environment needs more).

Consistent with the decision-framework, a number of watering actions proposed for spring 2010 and summer 2010-11 have been put on hold, because the sites have received sufficient natural flows.

In autumn and winter 2011, environmental needs will continue to be monitored across the Basin with a view to using water to capitalise on the ecological benefits of recent rainfall, and achieving maximum environmental benefit from the available allocations. For example, Commonwealth environmental water may be used to extend the duration of flow events, or to support bird breeding events triggered by natural flows.

In certain cases, water accounting rules allow water users to carryover water allocations for use in future seasons. It is likely that the Commonwealth will carryover water allocations into the 2011-12 water year to provide insurance for the environment during drier times.