Why do we need water for the environment?
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.
Water for the environment targets 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, water for the environment 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.
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.
Planning for the year ahead
All water for the environment is carefully planned each year to achieve environmental outcomes depending on ecological conditions, climate, community support and water availability.
A summary of the watering priorities for the Murrumbidgee Catchment for 2017-18 is reported in the Murrumbidgee Water Resource Plan Area: Statement of annual environmental watering priorities 2017-18 (PDF 1.1MB). This environmental water priority statement has been derived from more detailed annual environmental water planning.