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Environmental watering in the lower Murrumbidgee floodplains 2013-14

Status

March 2014: In progress.

About the watering

Photo

Nearing sunset on Paika Lake, western lakes area of the Murrumbidgee catchment. Photo: Stephanie Seacomb, CEWO

A further 40,000 ML of Commonwealth environmental water has been made available for use in the Murrumbidgee River catchment during 2013-14. This water is in addition to the 120,820 ML of Commonwealth environmental water (20,820 ML being supplementary Commonwealth environmental water) approved for use earlier in 2013-14.

The additional use of up to 40,000 ML of Commonwealth environmental water will allow watering actions within the lower Murrumbidgee catchment to continue through to June 2014. Including NSW environmental water, approximately 170,000 ML has been delivered to date as part of this watering action.

The watering action will support the ongoing recovery of the lower Murrumbidgee in areas such as the Nimmie-Caira wetlands, Yanga National Park, North Redbank, the Fiddlers Creek system and the Western Lakes, including Hobblers Lake. It will contribute to:

  • maintaining and improving the current extent of wetland and riparian native plant communities, such as river red gums, lignum and black box woodlands
  • providing reproduction and recruitment opportunities for riparian, floodplain and wetland native plants and animals
  • supporting the habitat requirements of waterbirds, native fish and other animals, especially frogs such as the endangered southern bell frog
  • supporting ecosystem functions, such as dispersal of biota and transfer of nutrients and energy, that relate to lateral connectivity (i.e. connectivity between the river channel, wetlands and floodplain) to maintain populations
  • improving ecosystem and population resilience through supporting ecological recovery and maintaining aquatic habitats

Commonwealth environmental water may also be used to contribute additional river flows to provide localised refuge habitat for fish and aquatic biota in the case of an adverse water quality event in the lower Murrumbidgee catchment. This may include diluting return flows from wetlands to mitigate potential low dissolved oxygen in the Murrumbidgee River.

The watering action will be managed in cooperation with NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), State Water Corporation, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Office of Water.

Monitoring the outcomes from this watering action will be done by Charles Sturt University, NSW OEH, NSW Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries), and the Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority (CMA).

The watering action is being made possible by the collaboration of a wide range of stakeholders including the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, State Water Corporation, local environmental water advisory committee and landholders.

See also NSW Office of Environment and Heritage media release of October 21, 2013 which refers to one of the sites receiving environmental water as part of this action.