Water boost to help native fish survive the drought

Water has been delivered into the Lachlan River in central NSW as part of a managed release aimed at replenishing the habitat of native fish during the drought.

White-necked heron (Ardea pacifica)

Over recent months, the water has travelled from Wyangala Dam through Booberoi Creek and finally into Cumbung Swamp at the lower end of the Lachlan River.

The water event is being managed by the Environment, Energy and Science division of the Department of Planning, Industry, and Environment (DPIE).

DPIE Senior Water Manager Dr Joanne Lenehan said releasing water for the environment was necessary to provide habitat for small and medium-bodied native fish, including the Un-specked hardyhead and Eel-tailed catfish.

"The Lachlan River is the fourth longest river in Australia and home to a diverse mix of native plants and animals all of which are affected by the current drought," Dr Lenehan said.

"As this water flows along the Lachlan River, this is giving native fish, especially young fish that were spawned in spring and summer, access to food and shelter during their first winter.

"As the water arrives at the Great Cumbung Swamp it will support the core reed beds and aquatic plants that provide habitat for native fish, as well as frogs, turtles and waterbirds.

"The flow has also improved connectivity along the Lachlan River and facilitated the exchange of food resources.

"DPIE manages the strategic and efficient use of water for the environment which enables us to support key refuge sites. This ensures that the river system and its wetlands can recover when higher river flows return", she said.

The initial release will deliver up to 6000 megalitres of Commonwealth-owned water. DPIE has made use of the higher river level to co-release 1500 megalitres of Wyangala environmental water allowance, to be delivered to the Booberoi Creek.

The watering event was planned in consultation with the Ngiyampaa Nation, Booberoi Water Users Group and the Lachlan Environmental Water Advisory Group which provides advice to DPIE on the timing and prioritisation of water events in the catchment.

DPIE's Environment, Energy and Science division is the lead agency for the management of water for the environment in NSW.

The Lachlan River runs from the Great Dividing Range in central NSW, westwards through sloping country in the central catchment, and then across river plains, terminating at the Great Cumbung Swamp.

Photos available for download: Water for the environment supports native fish during drought in Lachlan River