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Victorian Environmental Water Holder

Edition 8, November and December 2012 watering actions

Welcome to the latest edition of the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) Watering Update. This edition includes an update of environmental watering actions that happened across Victoria in November and December 2012. The VEWH is an independent statutory body responsible for holding and managing environmental water entitlements in Victoria. The VEWH works with waterway managers (catchment management authorities and Melbourne Water), the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Commonwealth Environmental Water, storage operators and land managers to deliver environmental water. A full list of VEWH Holdings is available in the Seasonal Watering Plan 2012-13 and at www.vewh.vic.gov.au. If you have any suggestions or feedback, or wish to subscribe to this update, please email adam.miller@vewh.vic.gov.au. Header image - Black Cormorant at Barmah boat ramp, Keith Ward, Goulburn Broken CMA.

VEWH news Reflections - environmental watering in Victoria 2011-12 out now

VEWH, Melbourne Water, Wyndham Council and community representatives after the launch of Reflections and the first environmental release targeting the Werribee estuary.

Reflections is the VEWH’s first annual watering booklet summarising Victoria’s environmental watering program for 2011-12. Each chapter includes an interview with a catchment management authority or Melbourne Water representative, providing a unique and personal look at environmental watering in each system. Please email general.enquires@vewh.vic.gov.au for hard copies, or download an electronic copy from www.vewh.vic.gov.au.

Watering recap Southern Victoria

Thomson system Where - Release from Thomson Dam into the Thomson River. When - Began early October and ended at the end of November 2012. What/how much - Targeted spring baseflows of 230 ML a day. Why - Encourage the recruitment of juvenile Australian grayling into the Thomson River.

Juvenile Australian grayling from the Thomson river Source - West Gippsland CMA

Who - West Gippsland CMA, Melbourne Water.

Tarago system Where - Release from Tarago Reservoir into the Tarago River.

Tarago River at Iona Source - Melbourne Water

When - Began late November and ended at the start of December 2012. What/how much - Targeted a fresh of 280 ML a day for one day. Why - To trigger the migration of Australian grayling from the estuary to the upper reaches of the river, and build on the recovery of aquatic plants and other fish populations after the prolonged drought period. Who - Melbourne Water.

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Werribee system Where - Release from Lake Merrimu and the Werribee Diversion Weir into the Werribee River.

Werribee Diversion Weir Source - VEWH

When Baseflows - Began mid October and ended at the start of November 2012. Fresh - Early December 2012. What/how much Baseflows - Targeted 10 ML a day for 14 days to extend winter/spring baseflows. Fresh - Targeted a small high flow fresh of up to 100 ML a day for three days in the Werribee estuary. Why Baseflows - Maintain and improve black bream habitat in the estuary. Fresh - Encourage fish, particularly black bream, to reproduce in the estuary, provide food for platypus, improve water quality and benefit vegetation and birds in the lower reaches of the Werribee River and the estuary. Who - Melbourne Water, Southern Rural Water.

Barwon system Where - Diversion into Hospital Swamps from the lower Barwon River. When - The inlet to Hospital Swamps was opened in early December to top up the system prior to flows in the Barwon River declining, and closed at the end of December. The outlet was closed in early December with no current plans to re-open. What/how much - Filling flows. Actual volume is determined by river heights. Why - Maintain the condition and extent of wetland vegetation, and maintain opportunities for waterbird breeding, recruitment and foraging. Who - Corangamite CMA.

Moorabool system Where - Release from Lal Lal Reservoir into the Moorabool River.

Moorabool River Source - Corangamite CMA

When - December 2012. What/how much - Released 16 ML a day for eight days. Why - To maintain baseflows. Who - Corangamite CMA, Barwon Water.

Western Victoria

Glenelg system Where - Release from Rocklands Reservoir into the Glenelg River. When - Winter flows ended in November. Summer flows began in December 2012. What/how much - Winter baseflows targeted 130 ML a day at Harrow. Summer flows included a fresh targeting Frasers Swamp 65 ML a day for six days at Source - Glenelg Hopkins CMA Harrow and baseflows of 16 ML a day at Dergholm. Why - Maintain habitat for fish and other aquatic species. Who - Glenelg Hopkins CMA, Grampians-Wimmera-Mallee Water.

Wetland phases - drying When a wetland dries, the water-dependent animal species will start to leave the site. Waterbirds will fledge (leave the nest), and reptiles such as turtles will move to alternative sites. Aquatic plants complete their life cycle in preparation for future flooding events, dying off as the wetland dries. The nutrients from these plants are captured in the wetland bed and sediments. Macroinvertebrates also lay eggs in the sediment of the wetland.

Lake Yando in the North Central region has been wet for a number of years, so is now in a drying phase. Source - North Central CMA

This phase of drying in a wetland is critical to allow plant species such as river red gums to germinate on the exposed mud flats as water recedes. Drying phases help to maintain an appropriate balance of aquatic and terrestrial plants, and ensure the wetting phase does not exceed the requirements of the relevant ecological community. There are a number of welands across Victoria that have been wet for several years, and are now entering this important drying phase.

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Wimmera system Where Wimmera River - Release from Lake Lonsdale via Mt William Creek, and Taylors Lake into the Wimmera River. MacKenzie River, lower Burnt Creek and Bungalally Creek - Release from Lake Wartook and Moora Reservoir into the MacKenzie River, lower Burnt Creek and Bungalally Creek.

MacKenzie River at Distribution Heads Source - Wimmera CMA

When - Winter/spring baseflows began in early June and ended in November 2012. Summer/autumn baseflows began in December 2012 and will continue to June 2013. What/how much Wimmera River - Winter/spring baseflows targeted baseflows of 37 ML a day upstream of Dimboola gauge. Summer/autumn baseflows targeting 5 ML a day upstream of Dimboola gauge, with a cease to flow implemented in late December. MacKenzie River - Targeted winter/spring baseflows of 20-80 ML a day at MacKenzie Creek reserve gauge. Summer/autumn baseflows targeting 4 ML a day at Dad and Dave Regulator, with a cease to flow implemented in late December. There will be four more cease to flows in 2013. Lower Burnt Creek - Targeted winter/spring baseflows of 2-10 ML a day at the outfall into lower Burnt Creek. Bungalally Creek - Targeted winter/spring baseflows of 2 ML a day at the outfall into Bungalally Creek. Why Wimmera River - Maintain water quality and habitat for fish including the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act-listed freshwater catfish. MacKenzie River, lower Burnt Creek and Bungalally Creek - Maintain water quality and vegetation communities as well as connectivity and habitat for fish and macroinvertebrates. Who - Wimmera CMA, Grampians-Wimmera-Mallee Water.

Wimmera-Mallee wetlands Where - Barbers Swamp, Beulah Weir Pool, Bull Swamp, Morton Plains Reserve and Roselyn Wetlands.

Barbers Swamp Source - Mallee CMA

When - All sites have been allocated water. Barbers Swamp and Beulah Weir Pool received water in December 2012. What/how much - Barbers Swamp: 15 ML; Beulah Weir Pool: 50 ML; Bull Swamp: 25 ML; Morton Plains Reserve: 16 ML; Roselyn Wetland: 20 ML. Why - Inundate riparian vegetation to improve the condition of the wetlands; provide aquatic habitat for water-dependent species; and provide watering points for animals that live in the adjoining bushland. Who - Mallee CMA, Grampians-Wimmera-Mallee Water.

Wimmera-Mallee wetlands During the modernisation of water delivery infrastructure in the Wimmera-Mallee region, there was a shift from open channel systems to a more efficient piped water supply system. This process resulted in many wetlands being isolated from channel outfall that historically watered the wetlands and supported various environmental values. The significance of the region’s wetlands, and the need for water to support their environmental values was recognised through the Minister for Water’s creation of a 1,000 ML entitlement generated with water savings from the WimmeraMallee Pipeline Project. Over 40 unique wetlands in the Wimmera-Mallee system have been selected for connection to the Wimmera-Mallee pipeline. The wetlands vary in size, and are home to a huge variety of native waterbird populations, including brolgas, egrets, bluebilled ducks, freckled ducks, Caspian terns and glossy ibis. They also provide a valuable source of water for other native animals such as the threatened growling grass frog. Important vegetation communities are present in the wetlands, such as spiny lignum and cane grass, providing diverse habitat for a wide range of animal species. In addition, many of the wetlands provide social values important to local communities, including canoeing and bird watching.

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To date, the following wetlands been allocated environmental water: • Bull Swamp • Barbers Swamp • Roselyn Wetlands • Beulah Weir Pool • Morton Plains Reserve.

The delivery of environmental water to more wetlands will occur as infrastructure connections are completed. More information about the Wimmera-Mallee wetlands is available in the VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2012-13 available at www.vewh.vic.gov.au.

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Northern Victoria

Goulburn system Where - Releases from Goulburn Weir into the Goulburn River. When - Began September and ended in December 2012. What/how much - Targeted winter/spring baseflows of 830 ML a day at Goulburn Weir and two spring freshes of 5,600 ML a day (the first for two days, and the second for 14 days) at Goulburn Weir. Why - Baseflows provided improved habitat for native fish and macroinvertebrates. The first fresh provided additional flows for the lower River Murray; while the second fresh provided oppprtunities for golden perch breeding and improved bank vegetation. Who - Goulburn Broken CMA, Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, MurrayDarling Basin Authority, Goulburn-Murray Water.

Broken system (lower Broken Creek) Where - Release from the Murray and Goulburn systems into Broken Creek.

Lower Broken Creek Source - Goulburn Broken CMA

When - Began September and will continue into 2013. What/how much - Targeted spring/summer high flows of 250 ML a day at Rices Weir. Why - Increase habitat for fish during their migration and breeding season and minimise risks to fish from low dissolved oxygen levels. Who - Goulburn Broken CMA, Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, Goulburn-Murray Water.

Campaspe system Where - Release from Lake Eppalock into the Campaspe River.

Campaspe River Source - North Central CMA

When Low flows - Began in October and ended in December 2012. Spring fresh - November 2012. What/how much Low flows - Targeted low flows of 125 ML a day at Lake Eppalock. When passing flow volumes from Lake Eppalock declined due to reduced inflows, Commonwealth environmental water was used to maintain low flows at the targeted rate. Low flows in December were met through environmental water and operational releases by Goulburn-Murray Water. Spring fresh - Targeted 1,500 ML a day for four days from a combination of water from the Living Murray program, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and Goulburn-Murray Water Connections Project water. Why Low flows - Improve instream habitat and food sources for macroinvertebrates. Spring fresh - Stimulate fish movement and spawning opportunities. Who - North Central CMA, Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, Goulburn-Murray Water.

Loddon system - Pyramid Creek Where - Release from both Waranga Basin and Laanecoorie Reservoir to the Loddon River below Loddon Weir. Release from Kow Swamp into Pyramid Creek.

Loddon River at Durham Ox Bridge Source - North Central CMA

When - November 2012. What/how much Loddon River - Targeted spring fresh of 650 ML a day for 6 days at Loddon Weir. Pyramid Creek - Targeted spring fresh of 800 ML a day for 12 days at the Box Creek regulator and to join with environmental flows in the lower Loddon River to create high flows over Kerang Weir for three weeks. Why Loddon River - Maintain riparian vegetation, maintain habitat for macroinvertebrates, encourage fish movement. Pyramid Creek - Improve the health and encourage migration of native fish populations, including silver and golden perch, by increasing access to habitat and food resources. Increase the area of habitat available for the bony herring populations in Pyramid Creek that are considered significant at a regional scale. Who - North Central CMA, Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, Goulburn-Murray Water.

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Northern wetlands and floodplains and the Living Murray icon sites Where - Release through Gunbower Creek. When - Started in July and ended in November 2012. What/how much - Consumptive water is being delivered through the creek, en route to water users by Goulburn-Murray Water, with any additional use in the Creek being underwritten with a combination of Commonwealth, Living Murray and Victorian environmental water. Why - Provide habitat refuge, spawning and recruitment for fish. Who - North Central CMA, Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, MurrayDarling Basin Authority, Goulburn-Murray Water.

Where - Delivered from the River Murray into Boals Deadwood. When - Began in November 2012 and will continue into January 2013.

Boals Deadwood in Barmah Forest Source - Goulburn Broken CMA

What/how much - Filling flows totalling 2,950 ML. Why - Maintain appropriate water levels to support spoonbill breeding. Who - Goulburn Broken CMA, Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Goulburn-Murray Water. Where - Delivered from the Torrumbarry Irrigation Area into McDonalds Swamp. When - Began in late October and ended in late November 2012.

McDonalds Swamp Source - North Central CMA

What/how much - Filling flows totalling 1,044 ML. Why - Provide habitat for waterbird species including great egrets and royal spoonbills, and support wetland vegetation. Who - North Central CMA, Goulburn-Murray Water.

Where - Delivered from the River Murray into Richardson’s Lagoon via pumping. When - Began in late October and ended in mid December 2012.

Richardson’s Lagoon Source - North Central CMA

What/how much - Filling flows of 1,256 ML. Why - Inundate the river red gum zone of the floodplain and provide habitat for waterbirds. Who - North Central CMA, Goulburn-Murray Water. Where - Delivered from the River Murray into Sandilong Creek via pumping. When - Began in November and will continue into January 2013.

Sandilong Creek Source -Mallee CMA

What/how much - 89 ML has been delivered. Why - Reduce the encroachment of weeds, and improve the condition of river red gum and black box communities. Who - Mallee CMA.

Five facts about river red gums 1.

The river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) is the most widely distributed eucalyptus species in Australia.

2.

Most of Victoria’s red gum forests occur along the channels and floodplains of inland waterways, principally the Ovens, Goulburn and Murray rivers. The largest areas are Barmah Forest and Gunbower Island, both on the River Murray.

3.

In a well-watered forest, river red gums can grow up to 45 metres tall with long, twisted trunks. In more open forest and woodland, the trees are often shorter, with thick twisted trunks and large branches.

4.

River red gums need periods of partial flooding, where their trunks may be inundated for months. Seeds are washed to high ground during a flood and germinate to take root and grow before the next flood submerges the new tree.

5.

A river red gum forest can produce 250 million seeds per hectare per year. Most seeds fall in spring and summer as the floods are receding. Ideal conditions for germination occur if the flood waters recede in spring, allowing sufficient time for seeds to germinate and grow prior to the hot, dry conditions of summer.

River red gums in Barmah Forest Source - Keith Ward, Goulburn Broken CMA

Information sourced from the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment and www.murrayriver.com.au.

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VEWH Watering Update Edition 8, Nov-Dec 2012  

This regular update gives you an overview of the environmental watering actions happening across Victoria, and a general news update

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