Annual environmental water priorities in the Lachlan catchment

Water managers will focus on maintaining condition and function of priority habitats and continue to build on the gains of previous years through the effective and efficient management of water for the environment in the catchment.

Priorities for 2021–22

In 2021–22, water managers in the Lachlan will focus on high aquatic plant diversity and ecological value sites from Lachlan River riparian wetlands to more ephemeral floodplain systems (e.g. Willandra Creek). These flows will target native fish, woody vegetation, waterbirds and connectivity outcomes. 

Flows will maintain refuge pools and in-stream connectivity in the mid to lower Lachlan, and macrophyte beds and waterbirds at Lake Brewster, as well as inundate the Great Cumbung Swamp for southern bell frog, Australasian bittern and core reed beds. Tributary flows under wet conditions will be extended to the Lachlan Swamps (Peppermint Swamp to Bullogal) and Great Cumbung Region.

If water availability improves, a whole of system fresh from Wyangala to Cumbung wetlands will be delivered for native fish populations to provide food and cues to move and breed. The fresh from Wyangala can connect riparian wetlands close to the river channel and high-priority assets in anabranches, including Wallaroi and Booberoi creeks. 

If Environmental Water Allowance is available and translucent flows occur, river red gum, black box and lignum floodplain wetlands will be targeted, which are also high-quality habitat for waterbirds. This includes areas not watered since the 2016 floods such as Cuba Dam to Lake Tarwong on Merrowie Creek.

Further details on watering priorities for 2021–22 can be found in the Lachlan Catchment – Water for the Environment: Annual Priorities (PDF 2.2MB).

Highlights from 2020–21

Delivery of water for the environment in 2020–21 enhanced high-flow river and floodplain functions by increasing the duration and extent of translucent flows in the lower Lachlan. Over 27,000 hectares of floodplain from Brewster to Cumbung was inundated and large lakes and wetlands filled, leading to hundreds of cormorant, darter and royal spoonbills nesting in Moon Moon Swamp and Australian pelicans successfully fledging at Lake Brewster. The southern bell frog and Australasian bittern were heard calling in spring for first time since the 2012 floods in the Lachlan.

Annual waterbird counts confirmed a diverse range and high numbers of species at over 30 survey sites, including no loss of threatened species and protected migratory waders under international conservation agreements. Species included the blue-billed duck, white-bellied sea-eagle, brolga, sharp-tailed sandpiper, Latham’s snipe and red-necked stint. 

Additional flows into Muggabah Creek, after stock and domestic replenishment, inundated stands of lignum and nationally significant river red gum woodlands last watered in the 2016 floods. Large tracts of macrophyte beds and refuge habitat for small-bodied native fish, Murray cod and freshwater catfish were replenished in Booberoi Creek.