Environmental issues

Water

Murrumbidgee Valley environmental water

large trees behind green grass

Wetland in Yanga National Park, Lowbidgee Floodplain. Photo: Rachael Thomas, OEH.

The Murrumbidgee catchment covers 81,527 square kilometres. This includes a 1,690-km stretch of river with surrounding wetlands and a number of national parks, nature reserves and conservation areas with important wetland values.

The wetlands and rivers of the Murrumbidgee catchment hold important Aboriginal cultural values.

Environmental water management areas

Environmental water deliveries focus on two main areas of the Murrumbidgee:

  • Murrumbidgee River Floodplain wetlands, located from Gundagai to the junction with Murray River - this includes the mid-Murrumbidgee wetlands site listed in the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia
  • the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) wetlands - this includes Fivebough and Tuckerbil Swamps listed under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (the ‘Ramsar Convention’) and Barren Box Swamp
  • the lower Murrumbidgee floodplain, known as the ‘Lowbidgee’, watered by diversions from the Maude Weir and Redbank Weir – this includes the Nimmie-Caira and Redbank systems, and the Yanga section of Murrumbidgee Valley National Park.

View a map showing the location of environmental watering areas in the Murrumbidgee valley (Mbidgee2013.pdf, 644KB).

The Murrumbidgee catchment contains 26 storage or diversion structures, making it one of Australia’s most regulated river systems, with substantial impacts on the water regime and availability of natural flows to floodplains and wetlands.

Benefits of environmental water

Environmental water in the Murrumbidgee valley supports:

  • wetland vegetation communities, including river red gum, black box, common reed, spike rush, cumbungi, river cooba, water lilies and water ribbons
  • habitat for a range of threatened, vulnerable and migratory birds, including Australian bittern, freckled duck, blue-billed duck, painted snipe, red-necked stint and superb parrot
  • habitat for the threatened southern bell frog
  • variable river flows and refuge areas required by native fish, including Murray cod and trout cod.

Plans for 2014-15 environmental watering

All environmental water is carefully planned each year to achieve environmental outcomes depending on, ecological conditions, climate, community support, and water availability. 

The Murrumbidgee Environmental Water Allowance Reference Group plays a key role in advising OEH on environmental water planning.

A summary of the environmental water priorities for the Murrumbidgee Catchment for 2014-15 is reported in the Murrumbidgee Water Resource Plan Area: Statement of annual environmental watering priorities 2014-15 (PDF, 548KB).  This environmental water priority statement has been derived from more detailed annual environmental water planning.

Partners

OEH manages environmental water in the Murrumbidgee catchment in partnership with:

Plans

Environmental water planning is supported by the following key documents and plans:

Reports on environmental water use

Environmental water use for 2012-13 is reported in the Environmental water use in NSW: Outcomes 2012-13.

Page last updated: 11 August 2014