Annual environmental water priorities in the Lachlan catchment

Water management in the Lachlan catchment will focus on connecting the river and floodplain to provide small-scale opportunities for native plants and animals to breed and grow.

Priorities for 2018–19

Conditions are likely to be warmer and drier than average in the Lachlan catchment during the coming year.

Water managers plan to target floodplain-river connectivity, provide opportunities for the growth, reproduction and small-scale recruitment of various plants and animals, and allow for natural wetting and drying cycles.

In the Lachlan catchment, availability of planned environmental water is largely dependent on inflow conditions. Carried over water will enable licenced (or held) environmental water to be available.

The management of water for the environment provides flexibility to respond to natural events that may occur during the year.

Further details on watering priorities for 2018–19 can be found in the Annual Environmental Watering Priorities 2018–19 (PDF 4.1MB).

Highlights from 2017–18

During the 2017–18 watering season, the Lachlan catchment experienced below average to very dry conditions. Semi-permanent water bodies that had filled during the 2016 flood dried down steadily through the year, with Lake Cowal being the only naturally-filled water body still holding significant water in April 2018.

Water manager Paul Packard said water for the environment was released in spring and early summer to support opportunities for fish to move and breed along the length of the Lachlan River.

‘Flows were also enhanced in the mid-Lachlan anabranch creeks, improving habitat and opportunities for movement of their fish populations’, Mr Packard said.

‘When flows arrived in the Great Cumbung Swamp, they partially inundated the reed beds, open water bodies and fringing wetland vegetation. 

‘A highlight in 2017–18 was the recovery of aquatic plants in the Lake Brewster outflow wetlands. For the first time since the construction of the outflow wetlands, water for the environment provided the trigger for extensive beds of water milfoil, ribbon weed, rushes and water grasses to establish. This flow also supported a pelican breeding colony of 4500 nests with over 3000 juveniles ready to fledge.

‘In autumn, once water for the environment in Lake Brewster had achieved its objectives for supporting wetland plants and pelican breeding, it was released back into the river in combination with other flows to provide a series of small freshes in the lower river to support stream food web processes and fish movement before winter’, he said.