Murrumbidgee Environmental Water Allowance Reference Group

The birds are breeding, the frogs are calling and wetlands in the Murrumbidgee valley are showing the benefits of targeted environmental watering.

People on committee standing by lake

Reference Group members at Hobblers Lake Photo: D Reynders OEH

The combined efforts of community members and government organisations are having a positive impact on the health and resilience of local rivers, wetlands and floodplains. The Murrumbidgee Environmental Water Allowance Reference Group (MEWARG) provides advice on the management of environmental water within the catchment.

The group is made up of community representatives, a range of stakeholder groups and government departments. It provides a point of interface between the community and the Commonwealth and State governments and is an opportunity for high-level involvement in environmental water management in the Murrumbidgee catchment.

Recent achievements

The Murrumbidgee EWARG's recent achievements include:

  • a five-year long term intervention monitoring agreement with Charles Sturt University and other partners
  • environmental watering throughout the Lowbidgee
  • delivery of environmental water to Yarradda lagoon (mid-Murrumbidgee wetlands)
  • environmental watering of the Ramsar-listed Fivebough swamp, which supported Australasian bittern breeding
  • landholder agreement for potential piggyback flows for the nationally important mid-Murrumbidgee wetlands.


The group faces a number of challenges including:

  • proposed changes to the Murrumbidgee Water Sharing Plan
  • engagement of the community and farmers to promote a better understanding environmental water management
  • setting a strategic approach to future environmental water usage and delivery.

Environmental water decision making

Senior Environmental Water Manager James Maguire said the Murrumbidgee EWARG played an important role in guiding environmental water decision making.

'The EWARG recently inspected newly inundated wetlands in the North Redbank, Yanga National Park and Nimmie-Caira systems, located on the Lowbidgee floodplain between Maude and Balranald,' he said.

'The application of Commonwealth and OEH environmental water in these systems has recently triggered waterbird breeding in species such as egrets, cormorants, swans and ducks.

'The wetlands are also home to recovering populations of the threatened Southern bell frog, whose numbers are now on the increase following many years of targeted environmental-flow management.

'With the endorsement of the Murrumbidgee EWARG, work is underway to assess the role of return flows in the North Redbank system.'

In the Murrumbidgee valley, sources of environmental water include three allowances established under the Water Sharing Plan for the Murrumbidgee Regulated River Water Source 2003, adaptive environmental water held by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and allocations made available from entitlements held by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office.

The Murrumbidgee EWARG is made up of representatives from

with observers from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and the Murray Darling Basin Authority.


Joanne Lenehan
PO Box 445
Cowra NSW 2794

Phone: 02 6349 8856


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Page last updated: 17 May 2016