Key Loddon wetland to get a drink
It’s the second-longest river in Victoria, and people have relied on its floodplain for tens of thousands of years.
And it’s also home to some of the most important internationally recognised wetlands in Victoria.
The Loddon River runs 310 kilometres from near Daylesford to just short of the Murray River north of Kerang.
As it comes off the Great Dividing Range, it has created a vast floodplain, and the further it stretches north, the more dramatic it becomes.
Before European occupation, floods stretched out across the landscape regularly, leaving a series of lakes, wetlands and swamps as they receded.
The remaining wetlands that are today dotted either side of the river are vital for key waterbird species, some of which migrate from around the world to the area each year.
The wetlands also house some of the last remaining redgum stands in the region, as well as some key fish species.
“This time of year, we would have historically expected some nice constant flows down the Loddon, and even into some creeks and wetlands,” North Central Catchment Management Authority Program Delivery Executive Manager Rachel Murphy said.
“Spring is usually when we get larger flows across the catchment, but the region would have been well and truly primed by then.
“River regulation and climate change means that doesn’t happen as often as it once did, and more intense floods can damage the rivers and communities, as we saw in 2010-11.”
Water for the environment is one way the Loddon River and some it its key wetlands can survive and thrive.
“Lake Leaghur just north of Boort is one of those wetlands that has changed and suffered over the years due to the changes in the landscape and climate,” Ms Murphy said.
“So, we’re excited to be delivering a small flow to Leaghur this winter, for only the second time in more than a decade.
“The aim is to prime the wetland for a planned fill in spring.
“We’ll focus on the health of the redgums in and around the wetland, as well as other key vegetation species in the lake, which the birds love.”
Lake Leaghur is part of a fascinating sub section of the Loddon River that highlights how water once flowed over the landscape.
“It’s easy to see the connection between the wetlands and the river. You can almost draw a straight line from Lake Boort through Lake Lyndger, Yando Swamp, Leaghur, Lake Meran, Great Spectacle Lake, Lake Murphy and then up into the Ramsar-listed Kerang Lakes,” Ms Murphy said.
An environmental flow will also move down the Loddon River.
The autumn fresh will see about 100 megalitres a day flow for three days from the Loddon Weir to the Little Murray River.
“That flow will wet the banks and help seeds germinate, improve water quality for fish and water bugs, and allow fish and platypus to move between pools safely.
The flows are authorised by VEWH in line with its Seasonal Watering Plan 2020-21, which is available for download from www.vewh.vic.gov.au, with regular watering updates posted on the North Central CMA website www.nccma.vic.gov.au.