The Murrumbidgee valley

Sidebar Sunset over Cherax Swamp - Western Lakes. Photo J Maguire OEH

Sunset over Cherax Swamp - Western Lakes. Photo J Maguire OEH

The Murrumbidgee river is one of Australia’s most regulated river systems, which poses some unique challenges and opportunities for the management of environment flows in the catchment.

Planning for the future

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is developing a Long Term Water Plan for the Murrumbidgee catchment.

The plan intends to improve the management of water for the environment and maximise outcomes from available flows.

Aims and objectives spanning five, 10 and 20 year timeframes will be included in the plan and guide the use of environmental water under a range of conditions.

OEH will work with the Environmental Water Advisory Group as part of the process with local, traditional and scientific knowledge informing the final plan.

Important environmental assets including fish, bird and plants will be identified and objectives set to support their ongoing and improved health.

Ecosystem functions such as waterbird breeding, fish movement and nutrient cycling will also be identified as part of the process.

The Long Term Water Plan is one of nine being developed for catchments across the state. It forms part of the NSW Government's commitment to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

At the same time, DPI Water is developing Water Resource Plans for the nine catchments, outlining the rules for access and use of consumptive and planned environmental water.

Together, they aim to achieve an agreed balance of outcomes between the environment and other water users.

More information

For more information go to Long Term Water Plans or contact:

Cristina Venables - Office of Environment and Heritage
Phone: 02 6229 7085

Why environmental water matters

Egret at rest in the Redbank wetlands

Egret at rest in the Redbank wetlands

Covering an area of 81,527 square kilometres, the Murrumbidgee catchment includes 26 storage or diversion structures, along with a 1690-kilometre stretch of the river, and surrounding wetlands.

Environmental watering is undertaken over a broad area including fringing lagoons on the Murrumbidgee River, swamps and creeks; the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) wetlands, including Ramsar-listed Fivebough and Tuckerbil swamps; and the lower Murrumbidgee floodplain, which includes the Nimmie Caira and Redbank systems and incorporates Yanga National Park.

In the Murrumbidgee valley, environmental water supports a range of wetland communities, providing habitat and breeding opportunities for flora and fauna, as well as refuge during times of natural flow-variation. Threatened species, including brolgas, the Australasian bittern, the Southern bell frog and the fishing bat, benefit from flows.

Working together

The Murrumbidgee Environmental Water Allowance Reference Group provides advice to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) on watering priorities on public and private lands, with the support of landholders.

There are important indigenous cultural sites throughout the Murrumbidgee valley catchment, including the Koonadan sandhill — a burial site adjacent the Tuckerbil wetlands.

Environmental water planning

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

A summary of the environmental water priorities for the Murrumbidgee Catchment for 2016-17 is reported in the Murrumbidgee Water Resource Plan Area: Statement of annual environmental watering priorities 2017–18 (PDF 1.0MB). This environmental water priority statement has been derived from more detailed annual environmental water planning.

Planning context

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

The allocation of environmental water is outlined in the Environmental water use in New South Wales: Outcomes 2015–16 (PDF 9.2MB) report.

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

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Page last updated: 19 September 2017