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Ovens catchment

Environmental watering in the catchment in 2013-14

Watering action Status of Commonwealth action
Ovens River Complete

A summary of Commonwealth environmental watering from previous years in the Ovens is included below. For further information about Commonwealth environmental watering in the Ovens and the outcomes achieved, please refer to the Commonwealth environmental water Outcomes Reports and Annual Reports

Planning for 2014-15

Commonwealth environmental water use options 2014-15: Victorian Rivers identifies potential Commonwealth environmental watering actions for 2014-15. 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 or send us your suggestion by visiting: Your suggestions for potential water use options.

Water availability and portfolio management

The Ovens catchment is part of the northern Victorian rivers system which includes the Goulburn, Broken, Campaspe, Loddon and Ovens rivers and Broken Creek.

For more information regarding the characteristics of entitlements and the water resource plan held in the Ovens catchment please refer to Victoria's Department of Environment and Primary Industries

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

Environmental watering in the catchment in 2012-13
Watering action Amount of water delivered (ML) Status of action
Ovens River 20 Completed
Total in 2012-13 20  
Environmental watering in the catchment in 2011-12
Watering action Amount of water delivered (ML) Status of action
Ovens River 70 Completed
Total in 2011-12 70  
Environmental watering in the catchment in 2009-11
Watering action Amount of water delivered (ML) Status of action
Ovens catchment river flows 50 Completed
Total in 2009-11 50  

Catchment profile

Where is it?

The Ovens catchment is located in north-eastern Victoria and centres on the Ovens River. The total catchment area is 7,867 km2. The river originates near Mount Feathertop and Mount Hotham in the Great Dividing Range and flows northwards to meet the Murray at Lake Mulwala. Several major tributaries join the Ovens River including the King River and the Buffalo River.

Southern Catchment


Ramsar site

DIWA site

Ovens Catchment

What makes this place so special?

The Ovens River is largely unregulated, meaning it is unique among the rivers within the southern Murray-Darling Basin because it still has a relatively natural flow regime.

The river is ecologically significant because it:

  • supports large sections of river red gum forests and woodlands along its floodplain and so provides habitat for fauna dependent upon this vegetation
  • supports a significant riparian vegetation that provides an important habitat corridor for fauna
  • provides in-stream habitat for threatened native fish species including the Murray cod.

The Ovens River is listed under the Directory of Important Wetlands as a nationally significant wetland.

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 overall ecosystem health of the Murrumbidgee catchment as reported by the SRA is summarised below.

SRA Report Overall ecosystem health of catchment
SRA 1 (based on data collected from 2004 to 2007) Poor
SRA 2 (based on data collected from 2008 to 2010) Poor

The CSIRO Sustainable Yields Report on the Ovens catchment indicated the current level of surface water use was very low at 1.4 per cent. Under best estimate 2030 climate conditions there would be a 13 per cent decrease in water availability and end of system flows.

Note that the boundaries of this catchment as defined by the Sustainable Rivers Audit and the Sustainable Yields report differ slightly to the boundaries used here.