Water for life this summer
As the warmer weather starts to bite, waterways such as the Loddon River can struggle.
In some reaches, especially when irrigation demand is low, the river can stop flowing, creating disconnected pools.
“That can be a nightmare for the local fish, platypus and water rats,” North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) Environmental Water Manager Louissa Rogers said.
“They can get stuck in a pool, and as the summer gets hotter, that pool can become shallower and impacted by the air temperature.
“During hot weather oxygen levels in pools can also drop, which we saw in certain sections of the Loddon last summer. That can cause toxic blackwater.
“Last summer, we identified a potential toxic blackwater event early and sent a freshening flow down to mitigate against it becoming worse. It worked, as we didn’t have any fish die.”
Water for the environment over the past 10 years has seen native fish such as the vulnerable Murray Darling rainbowfish return to the Loddon River, and golden perch thrive in some sections.
“We have even recorded the critically endangered silver perch, which is great news,” Ms Rogers said.
“To help our native fish survive over summer, we will provide a constant summer low flow of up to 50 ML/day throughout summer and also put at least three freshening flows down the Loddon, starting in mid December.
“The first flow will peak at up to 100 megalitres a day for three days from December 18, to help freshen those pools and give fish and platypus a refuge over the hotter months.
“The water will flow the whole length of the regulated section of the river, from Cairn Curran and Tullaroop reservoirs to the Murray River.
“Keeping this section of the river healthy over summer is important for irrigators and river users, as well as the native animals that depend on it to survive.”
The flows are part of the Victorian Government’s $222 million investment over the next four years to improve the health of waterways and catchments, and are authorised by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder in line with its Seasonal Watering Plan 2017-18.
The VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2017-18 is available for download from www.vewh.vic.gov.au, with regular watering updates posted on the North Central CMA website