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Murray catchment

Environmental watering in the catchment in 2013-14

Watering action Status of Commonwealth action
Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (within Lower River Murray region) In progress
Lower Murray (Rilli Reach and Ramco River Terrace 2013-14 to 2015-16) Yet to commence
Lower Murray (Clark’s Floodplain, Thiele’s Flat and Loxton Riverfront Reserve 2013-14 to 2015-16) In progress
Murray River Valley Completed
Gunbower Creek In progress
Edward-Wakool Rivers, Colligen, Yallakool, Tuppal, Gwynnes, Jimaringle and Cockran Creeks In progress (Tuppal Creek)
Lower Murray (Murray River at the Locks 8 and 9 weir pools) In progress
Lower Murray Wetlands (South Australia) In progress
Johnsons Waterhole, Lower Murray (South Australia) In progress

Please see Environmental watering in the Murray catchment in previous years for more information on previous years watering. For further information about Commonwealth environmental watering in the Murray catchment and the outcomes achieved, please refer to the Commonwealth environmental water Outcomes Reports and Annual Reports.

Planning for 2013-14

Commonwealth environmental water use options 2013-14: Lower Murray-Darling Region and Commonwealth environmental water use options 2013-14: Mid Murray Region identifies potential Commonwealth environmental watering actions for 2013-14. Decisions on using Commonwealth environmental water will be made throughout the year based on seasonal, operational and management considerations. If you wish to provide suggestions for Commonwealth environmental water use please contact us at ewater@environment.gov.au or send us your suggestion by visiting: Your suggestions for potential water use options.

Monitoring of environmental watering in the catchment in 2012-13

Monitoring projects underway

  • Monitoring and reporting on the ecological outcomes of Commonwealth environmental water delivered in the Edward-Wakool river system between September 2012 and June 2013.
  • Monitoring, evaluating and reporting on the ecological outcomes of Commonwealth environmental water delivery to the lower Murray River valley between 1 October 2012 and 30 September 2013.

Water availability and portfolio management

Murray catchment water holdings at 31 March 2014
Location Security Registered entitlements (ML) Long Term Average Annual Yield (ML) Carryover from 2012-13 (ML) New allocations in 2013-14 (ML) Available water transferred for delivery or delivered directly in 2013-14 (ML) Estimated current Commonwealth water account balance (ML)
NSW High* 12,600 11,925 20,327 334,944 234,000 121,271
General# 327,529 265,298
Conveyance 1,860 1,458
Groundwater 1,244 1,244
Unregulated 276 218
Supplementary 211 155
Vic High 261,308 248,376 87,562 186,932 103,500 170,994
Low 15,121 4,744
SA High 110,050 99,045 0 107,226 107,146 80
  Total 730,199 632,464 107,889 629,102 444,646 292,345

# Includes 795 ML of General security entitlement in the Lower Darling
* Includes 394 ML of High security entitlement in the Lower Darling

Subject to water accounting adjustments. Slight discrepancies may exist due to rounding. Allocations of water against entitlements held in regulated systems are made periodically and will depend on factors including seasonal inflows and rules associated with water accounts. Water can be transferred across catchments in the southern connected basin, subject to trading rules. Southern connected basin includes the following hydrologically connected catchments: Goulburn, Campaspe, Loddon, Murray (SA, Victoria, and NSW), Lower Darling, and Murrumbidgee. Allocations are transferred to the Commonwealth following registration of the entitlements on the relevant State register. 'New allocations' does not include any water in spillable water accounts prior to a declaration of a low risk of spill.

Southern-connected Basin water holdings* at 31 March 2014
Security Registered entitlements (ML) Long Term Average Annual Yield (ML) Carryover from 2012-13 (ML) New allocations in 2013-14 (ML) Available water transferred for delivery or delivered directly in 2013-14 (ML) Estimated current Commonwealth water account balance (ML)
High 611,234 575,132 168,703 982,024 751,614 399,113
General/Low 564,986 408,226
Conveyance 12,916 11,961
Supplementary 21,031 3,070
Total 1,210,167 998,389 168,703 982,024 751,614 399,113

*Water allocations in southern-connected Basin catchments can, with some restrictions, be traded to other catchments in the southern-connected Basin. This gives the Commonwealth the capacity to move water between catchments of the southern-connected Basin to get the best outcomes for the environment.

For more information regarding the characteristics of entitlements and the water resource plan held in the Murray catchment please refer to Victoria's Department of Environment and Primary Industries, South Australia's Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries Office of Water

Water trading

Information on future trade considerations is available at: Portfolio Management Update

Information on current trading actions is available at: Current Trading Actions

Information on previous trading actions is available at: Trading Outcomes

Environmental watering in the catchment in previous years

Please see Environmental watering in the Murray catchment in previous years for more information.

Outcomes of Commonwealth environmental watering in the Edward-Wakool river system

In 2011-12 Charles Sturt University and partner agencies monitored the use of Commonwealth environmental water in the Edward-Wakool rivers system. Key outcomes identified through this work (and related monitoring in the Murray River) were that Commonwealth environmental water has:

  • contributed to native fish numbers in the Edward-Wakool river system
  • contributed to increased breeding of carp gudgeon, a small native fish, in the Edward-Wakool river system
  • contributed to increasing the food sources for native fish in the Edward-Wakool river system
  • provided a refuge for fish and aquatic animals from naturally occurring blackwater in the Edward-Wakool in April 2012, and also to downstream refuges in the Murray River.

The results from this monitoring are helping inform the future use of environmental water for the benefit of the river.

In 2012-13 Charles Sturt University and partner agencies continued to monitor the use of Commonwealth environmental water delivered to the Edward-Wakool river system. The team is monitoring three key Commonwealth environmental watering events to determine whether they:

  • support breeding and recruitment of native fish, frogs, turtles, invertebrates
  • support habitat requirements of native fish, frogs, turtles, invertebrates
  • maintain health of existing extent of riparian, floodplain and wetland native vegetation communities
  • support ecosystem functions that relate to mobilisation, transport and dispersal of biotic and abiotic material (e.g. sediment, nutrients and organic matter)
  • support ecosystem functions that relate to longitudinal connectivity (i.e. connectivity along a watercourse) and lateral connectivity (i.e. connectivity between the river channel, wetlands and floodplain) to maintain populations.

The preliminary report (executive summary) can be found in the section below. The final report will be released later in 2013.

Monitoring reports and fact sheets

Catchment profile

Where is it?

The Murray catchment centres on the Murray River, which is one of the iconic rivers that defines Australia's largest surface water system, the Murray-Darling Basin. The Murray catchment extends across southern New South Wales, northern Victoria and south-eastern South Australia. The total area of the catchment is 133,677 km2.

The headwaters of the Murray River originate in the Australian Alps. The river flows in a general north-westerly direction and defines the border between NSW and Victoria. At the border with South Australia, the river flows west across a wide floodplain before turning southwards and eventually emptying into the Southern Ocean at the Murray Mouth. The Murray River receives inflows from the Barwon-Darling, Lower Darling, Murrumbidgee, Ovens, Goulburn-Broken, Campaspe Loddon and Wimmera-Avoca catchments.

Southern Catchments page

Legend


Ramsar site


DIWA site

Murray Catchment

What makes this place so special?

The Murray catchment is home to a large and diverse range of flora and fauna, including species recognised by international agreements (e.g. migratory bird species) and a number of threatened species and ecological communities. Many of these species are listed and protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which is the Australian Government's principal piece of environmental legislation. Other species are listed under environmental legislation in their respective states and territories.

The catchment includes many significant wetlands, including Wetlands of International Importance listed under the Ramsar Convention (Ramsar) and nationally important wetlands listed under the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia (DIWA). Some of these wetlands include:

The Murray catchment is home to some of the largest stands of river red gum in Australia.

The effects of drought, climate change, and high levels of extraction have reduced river flows resulting in a significant decline in the ecological health of many of these stands and their understorey vegetation. Depletion in soil moisture and an increase in underlying saline groundwater is also jeopardising river red gums, and therefore also threatening habitat for the diverse range of fauna that depend on this vegetation.

Six areas in the Murray catchment have been identified as 'Icon Sites' under The Living Murray (TLM) program.

What does the latest science say about the ecological health of the catchment?

The Sustainable Rivers Audit (SRA), coordinated by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, provides scientifically robust assessments of the ecological health of the Basin's river valleys. The SRA reports the overall health of the Murray River in three zones (Lower, Central, and Upper). The overall ecosystem health of the Murray River as reported by the SRA is summarised below.

SRA Report Overall ecosystem health of catchment
Upper Murray Central Murray Lower Murray
SRA 1 (based on data collected from 2004 to 2007) Very poor Poor Poor
SRA 2 (based on data collected from 2008 to 2010) Poor Poor Poor

The CSIRO Sustainable Yields Report on the Murray found that the current level of surface water extraction is high, with 36 percent of average available water being diverted away from the waterways.

Under the best estimate 2030 climate conditions, average surface water availability for the Murray region would fall by 14 per cent, average diversions in the Murray region would fall by 4 percent and end-of-system flows would fall by 24 per cent. The Murray catchment as defined in this report also included the Lower Darling below Menindee.

Environmental water delivery references

Environmental Water Delivery: Yarrawonga to Tocumwal and Barmah-Millewa, Environmental Water Delivery: Edward Wakool system, Environmental Water Delivery: Koondrook-Perricoota Forest, Environmental Water Delivery: Gunbower Forest and Environmental Water Delivery: River Murray – Coorong, Lower Lakes and main channel below Lock 1 collate current knowledge of the operational and administrative arrangements for the delivery of environmental water to different parts of the Murray River system.

The documents provide an overview of the environmental assets and potential environmental water use options. 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