An image from CEWO's webcam at Sunshower Lagoon following the June 2011 Murrumbidgee watering event
Fish, turtles, birds and frogs in the Murrumbidgee river had successful breeding events this past Spring according to monitoring by Charles Sturt University.
The research, partially funded by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO), tracked ecological responses to a release of more than 160 gigalitres of water in June 2011.
"We've been getting exciting results, with new species of fish turning up in the wetlands and also some hatchling Macquarie turtles," Dr Skye Wassens, the project's lead scientist said.
"We've had waterbird breeding at some of the lagoons. Darters and cormorants were nesting and breeding and have successfully fledged now. We've also had large numbers of tadpoles recorded for a range of frog species and we've started to see little juvenile frogs now recruiting into the adult population," she said.
Dr Wassens said environmental water supported breeding and juvenile development in native species by filling wetlands to provide still, warm, nutrient-rich habitats.
"Environmental flows are important for a whole range of species, for frogs and turtles and fish, because they create little nursery habitats to allow them to breed and for the young to survive," she said.
Environmental water also enhances connectivity between wetlands and the main river channel so fauna can freely transfer between the habitat types.
"This is also why we often need repeat flows over a few years or through the season, as each time the river connects back to the wetland we can let native fish back into the river after they've grown and allow that movement back and forth," Dr Wassens said.
For more information view the monitoring report. A final report will be available mid 2012.
From the Murray-Darling Basin Authority:
When the draft Basin Plan documents were made available to the public on 28th November 2011, the Chair of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Craig Knowles noted, "After nine months of talking to people across the Basin and listening to their ideas I am confident we can move toward a sensible and balanced plan."
Griffith residents speak at the public meeting
Water Minister Tony Burke and MDBA Chair Craig Knowles at Griffith
An open house discussion at Deniliquin
"This is simply the next step in the ongoing journey of water reform and builds on a lot of good work that has already been done," he said.
During the five months since November, there have been many more conversations with Basin communities. The Authority has responded to many invitations to come and talk – extended by towns, community groups, professional associations and peak bodies.
We designed the meetings according to the community's preferences – they could be big public meetings, smaller technical briefings and round table discussions or open houses where individuals could talk one on one with the Authority and staff from the departments of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Authority staff have also been invited to attend meetings of industry and environmental organisations such as the Rice Growers Association Branch, the Murray Darling Association and meetings convened where socio economic briefings were given to regional banks.
The Authority also travelled to more than 20 towns throughout the Basin to talk with Aboriginal people on their country. Meeting wherever Aboriginal people felt comfortable – in halls, in homes, or by the river and supporting these communities to make submissions on the draft Basin Plan.
We've been talking and listening the length and breadth of the Basin – from Murray Bridge in South Australia to Dalby in Queensland. We know without local support and cooperation, the Basin Plan and associated water reforms will not work.
And while many of the interest groups disagree about what is proposed and different state governments have different views – there is general agreement that we need a plan.
There have been some consistent themes, albeit often diametrically opposed. As predicted in the Foreword by the Authority in its Delivering a Healthy Working Basin document – the conservation movement wants more water to be returned for the environment and farmers and irrigators want less. Scientists want more science.
Many people have taken the time and care to respond to the draft Basin Plan and the Authority is appreciative of their contributions, by 5 April we had received more than 3,000 submissions.
Many people have also taken the time to come to meetings to share their knowledge, views and experiences with the Authority. Again the Authority is grateful for their willingness and commitment to be involved.
The submission period closed on 16 April. All submissions are being posted on the Authority's website (except where submitters request confidentiality).
The MDBA will then consider submissions received and prepare a document that:
- gives a broad outline of any changes the Authority makes to the draft Basin Plan; and
- summarises any submissions received, how they have been addressed, and alterations made to the draft as a result.
The Authority must then provide each member of the Legislative and Governance Forum of the Murray-Darling Basin with a copy of the draft Plan incorporating any changes.
Subject to the Basin Ministers' response to the draft Basin Plan, the Authority may submit the revised Plan to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Tony Burke, for approval.
The Minister may then approve the plan or request further changes and only when satisfied will he present the Plan to the Parliament.
For further information visit the Murray-Darling Basin Authority's website: www.mdba.gov.au
Communities attend the MDBA consultation session at Griffith en masse filling indoor and outdoor areas
The Cities and Towns team from the department's Urban Water Security Branch recently participated in a successful event at Victoria's surf coast to mark the beginning of work on the Black Rock Recycled Water Plant.
The $42 million plant will reduce pressure on the Geelong region's potable water supplies, and has the capacity to produce three billion litres of recycled water each year. This amount represents about 10 per cent of Geelong's current water consumption.
The plant will enable the delivery of recycled 'Class A' water to the Armstrong Creek area, where 22,000 homes will have access to the water for gardens, car washing and toilet flushing.
The plant will also provide 'fit for purpose' water for agricultural irrigation and urban reuse, providing an alternative water source for community amenities, such as sporting grounds, and provide the impetus for environmentally friendly urban development.
The Australian Government provided $10 million in funding for the plant under the government's Water for the Future initiative, through the National Water Security Plan for Cities and Towns. The project is being implemented by Barwon Water on behalf of the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment.
Official sod turning (L-R) Rachel Ross SEWPaC, Baron Water managing director Michael Malouf, South Barwon MP Andrew Katos, Barwon Water chairman Michael King and Western Victoria MP David Koch.
Commonwealth environmental water discussion paper on trading
The Commonwealth Environmental Water discussion paper on trading is open to public feedback until 27 April 2012, to help inform the development of water trading arrangements. Trading Commonwealth environmental water has the potential to improve the capacity of the Commonwealth environmental water holdings to meet environmental objectives. There are also potential benefits to other water users. Download the Discussion Paper.
Commonwealth Environmental Water 2010-11 Outcomes Report
The Commonwealth Environmental Water 2010-11 Outcomes Report is now available. The report shows the results of water use including the impacts on plant and animal species and provides important indicators of wider river and wetland health. Download the 2010-11 Outcomes Report.
Water Deputy Secretary wins Australia Day Award
The department's Water Deputy Secretary David Parker added another string to his bow in January, when he was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the annual Australia Day awards.
David was awarded for his work on economic policy at Treasury as well as his support for the public awareness of kidney health issues. He is a board member of Kidney Health Australia and a member of several health advisory committees.
David's personal experiences as a long-term sufferer of chronic kidney disease and transplant recipient have given him an insight into the disease, which affects nearly 15 per cent of adult Australians.
"Kidney disease is somewhat of a silent epidemic," he said. "There are many different causes of kidney disease, but diabetes and high blood pressure are major factors in about half of all cases of end-stage kidney failure."
"Thankfully the good news is that most people with chronic kidney disease don't get to end-stage kidney failure – they will die of something else first! The bad news is that their chronic kidney disease will have probably contributed to their death in some way. This underlines the need for early detection and prevention."
"We need to encourage people to do the right things, which include watching your blood pressure and staying fit and healthy. Many people don't know they have the disease until they suddenly get very sick."
Aside from receiving awards, David has been busy overseeing the responsibilities of the department's Water Group.
"The work of Water Group ranges from helping implement reform of the Murray-Darling Basin, overseeing Ramsar sites, and managing major infrastructure projects to the Great Artesian Basin initiative. There is always an interesting project or a policy challenge," David said.
When not applying himself to all things liquid, David likes to watch a movie. Apparently, he doesn't get to see many.
The Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) officially launched their Centenary of Irrigation celebrations on 30 March at the McCaughey Mansion in Yanco, NSW – the former home of irrigation pioneer, Sir Samuel McCaughey.
The Centenary will be marked by a series of community events throughout 2012, which pay homage to the visionaries, engineers and dam workers who pioneered the investment in irrigated agriculture and recognise our farmers, businesses and communities that have made the MIA the success story it is today.
The department is proud to sponsor the Centenary celebrations and to acknowledge the enormous contribution our irrigation industry makes to Australia's economy, food and fibre production and the vitality of rural and regional communities across the country.
For further information visit www.mirrigation.com.au
A new interactive web tool is available to help people access information on the status of water planning across Australia.
The National Water Planning Report Card provides a summary of water plans across Australia and areas for future improvement.
Users can compare key elements of water planning at national, state and local levels – across 157 water plan areas. Interactive jurisdictional maps show the location of water plan areas, allowing users to drill down to local plans.
The National Water Commission developed the web tool to help more effective and transparent water planning reporting. Download the National Water Planning Report Card.
Groundwater makes up about 17 per cent of Australia's accessible water resources and accounts for more than 30 per cent of our total water consumption. Yet this precious resource is neither understood nor managed as well as it needs to be.
As part of the $82 million National Groundwater Action Plan to improve knowledge and understanding of groundwater, the National Water Commission has developed Groundwater Essentials, an accessible and easy to understand booklet that sets out everything you need to know about groundwater.
It also includes links to various water departments and authorities in each jurisdiction as well as examples of how groundwater can be used for irrigation, potable supply, industrial use and stock and domestic use.
The booklet is available from the National Water Commission website at www.nwc.gov.au
Connect with us
The department is now on Twitter, follow us on: @envirogov
The department is also developing a photostream Flickr site
Subscribe to the department's YouTube channel
Open grant round
Irrigation Modernisation Planning Assistance helps irrigation water providers to develop modernisation plans for their districts that identify ways to upgrade irrigation infrastructure and assess options to adapt to a future with less water.
Applications close: 29 October 2012 (unless all available funds are committed earlier)
Before you download
Some documents are available as PDF files. You will need a PDF reader to view PDF files.
List of PDF readers
If you are unable to access a publication, please contact us to organise a suitable alternative format.
For up-to-date information about the Water for the Future initiative.