Working together brings results
Every drop or water counts for our lakes and rivers in summer, and this season water in Lake Eppalock was doing triple duty for irrigation, the environment and recreation.
For the fourth summer in a row, the North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) worked closely with Goulburn Murray Water to time irrigation flows and system transfers to benefit the health of the Campaspe River.
As a result, 7,780 megalitres of water for the environment planned for the river stayed in Lake Eppalock over summer bringing the total over the past four summers to about 47,000 ML.
This financial year, more than 17,000 megalitres has been sent down the river from the Eppalock reservoir for farms and stock and domestic use. More than 12,000 of that was from October to the end of March.
“We understand the importance of our waterways to our communities, both at the reservoir itself and those downstream,” North Central CMA Acting Environmental Flows Program Manager Genevieve Smith said.
“GMW had water to deliver and we worked with them to ensure it was delivered at a time and a rate that would benefit, as much as possible, native fish and platypus and the vegetation and water bugs they rely on to survive.
“Healthy river flows are not just about adding water. They are about adding the right amount of water at the right time and in the right place.”
The North Central CMA is building resilience in the Campaspe River to cope with future dry conditions and restoring it after the damage of the Millennium Drought, 2010-11 floods and a century of regulation.
“The river is looking magnificent and native fish numbers are increasing, and our management approach is producing results,” Ms Smith said.
“Irrigation flows have almost stopped now, and with the official season finishing in a few weeks, we are focused on making sure the water quality in the Campaspe stays high for the health of our fish, platypus, plants and bugs.
“Rivers need to flow in autumn and winter, and we will begin our yearly autumn fresh in the coming days and small flows will continue daily until June to ensure the river keeps flowing.”
Up to 900ML will flow down the river over six days, and then up to 40ML a day until winter.
“It’s important that rivers receive water, when possible, even during dry conditions,” Ms Smith said.
“Many of the state’s rivers, floodplains and wetlands constantly experience an artificial drought because of river regulation and population growth.
“This means that even when it is wet, they get less water than they would have naturally, as water is held back and stored, and up to half of it is removed for farms, towns and businesses.
“This impact is even greater when conditions are dry.
“That’s why it’s important water is used when it’s available, to help rivers survive the dry conditions, and to manage them in an efficient and effective way.”
The flows are part of the Victorian Government’s $222 million investment to improve the health of waterways and catchments and are authorised by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder in line with its Seasonal Watering Plan 2018-19.