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Environmental water delivery: Yarrawonga to Tocumwal and Barmah-Millewa

Commonwealth Environmental Water, 2011

Environmental Water Delivery: Yarrawonga to Tocumwal and Barmah-Millewa collates current knowledge of the operational and administrative arrangements for the delivery of environmental water to Barmah-Millewa forests and provides an overview of the environmental assets and potential environmental water use options for the catchment. 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.

Introduction

Increased volumes of environmental water are now becoming available in the Murray-Darling Basin and this will allow a larger and broader program of environmental watering. It is particularly important that managers of environmental water seek regular input and suggestions from the community as to how we can achieve the best possible approach. As part of the consultation process for Commonwealth environmental water we will be seeking information on:

  • community views on environmental assets and the health of these assets
  • views on the prioritisation of environmental water use
  • potential partnership arrangements for the management of environmental water
  • possible arrangements for the monitoring, evaluation and reporting (MER) of environmental water use.

This document has been prepared to provide information on the environmental assets and potential environmental water use in the Barmah-Millewa forest and River Murray floodplain between Yarrawonga and Tocumwal.

The Barmah-Millewa system includes extensive areas of internationally significant wetlands and provides habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna species. Potential water use options for Barmah-Millewa include the provision of spring flows through the Barmah-Millewa regulators to provide low level inundation of the forest. This is expected to support small scale recruitment of waterbirds, breeding opportunities for turtles and improve the condition of giant rush, moira grass and river red gum forest communities.

A key aim in undertaking this work was to prepare scalable water use strategies that maximise the efficiency of water use and anticipate different climatic circumstances. Operational opportunities and constraints have been identified and delivery options prepared. This has been done in a manner that will assist the community and environmental water managers in considering the issues and developing multi-year water use plans.

The work has been undertaken by consultants on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Previously prepared work has been drawn upon and discussions have occurred with organisations such as the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW Office of Water, NSW State Water, Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority, and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Management of environmental water will be an adaptive process. There will always be areas of potential improvement. Comments and suggestions including on possible partnership arrangements are very welcome and can be provided directly to: ewater@environment.gov.au.