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Environmental watering in the Murray River Valley 2013-14

Status

31 March 2014: This action is completed.

Up to 300 gigalitres of Commonwealth environmental water is being provided for use within the Murray River Valley including the river channel between Hume Dam to the Murray Mouth in South Australia, the lower Darling River channel below Menindee Lakes to Wentworth and associated low level floodplain and wetlands.

Pelicans near Lake Alexandrina, South Australia. © Amanda Cox and DSEWPaC

The delivery of Commonwealth environmental water may be used to order flow rates targeting up to 15,000 ML/day downstream of Yarrawonga Weir (recognising that subsequent rain events may naturally result in marginally higher rates). If there is an increased chance of flow rates exceeding 18,000 ML/day downstream of Yarrawonga Weir and 60,000 ML/day at the South Australian border the delivery of Commonwealth environmental water will be reduced or cease. Flow thresholds have been established through external consultation with our delivery partners to minimise impacts on third parties and to river and floodplain work programs, and will be subject to ongoing assessment as the season progresses and conditions change. In the use of Commonwealth environmental water, delivery partners are required to manage flows so as to avoid or minimise impacts to private property and public infrastructure.

The proposed watering action will contribute to the following expected environmental outcomes:

  • maintain and improve the condition, diversity and extent of floodplain and wetland native plants communities
  • improve the diversity and condition of native fish and waterbird populations through maintaining suitable aquatic habitat and providing opportunities for breeding and recruitment
  • maintain ecological function through supporting longitudinal and lateral hydrological connectivity
  • improve ecosystem and population resilience through supporting ecological recovery and maintaining aquatic habitat
  • maintain water quality within the River Murray valley by contributing to the transport and export of salt and nutrients through the Murray Mouth and mitigating environmental risks associated with hypoxic dissolved oxygen levels and algal blooms.

This watering action will be managed in cooperation with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Victorian Environmental Water Holder, and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources SA.

See also: Minister's media release - A '300 billion litre drink' for the River Murray