Annual environmental water priorities in the Lachlan catchment

Flow management in the Lachlan catchment will boost productivity and build system-scale resilience, where water is available. If conditions evolve into extreme dry, the focus will shift to providing drought refuges and avoiding irretrievable loss of species and habitat.

Priorities for 2020–21

Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a shift toward wetter than average conditions and warmer than average temperatures through winter–spring 2020 in the Lachlan catchment. 

In 2020–21, water managers will continue to build on the gains of previous years through the careful management of water for the environment.

If rain brings increased water availability, flows to Merrimajeel Creek and Merrowie Creek are proposed to support any colonial waterbird breeding if initiated and water is deliverable.

If water availability improves, water managers will look at opportunities to deliver flows to refresh and maintain deep refuge pools in high-priority reaches for native fish biodiversity in mid-Lachlan anabranches and wetlands and sections of the Lachlan River to Micabil Weir and Brewster Weir pool to Booligal.

Native riparian and instream vegetation will benefit from opportunistic flows targeted at native fish, waterbirds and connectivity outcomes.

Further details on watering priorities for 2020–21 can be found in the Annual Environmental Watering Priorities 2020–21 (PDF 2.7MB).

Highlights from 2019–20

During 2019–20, water for the environment supported a variety of refuge sites for native plants and animals impacted by drought conditions.

Water managers partnered with stakeholders to water nine wetlands from the mid-Lachlan to the Great Cumbung Swamp. These wetlands supported a variety of waterbirds, including waterfowl, wading birds, open or deep-water foragers and fish eaters, and benefited threatened species, such as the freckled duck, blue-billed duck and brolga, as well as migratory shorebird species. The water also protected areas such as the nationally significant river red gum mound–channel wetland Angora Clump from risk of severe drought stress, as well as maintaining condition of the Booligal Wetlands floodplain.

The Department worked with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) to deliver spring pulse flows in the Lower Lachlan to build resilience for summer. A portion of the spring pulse was retained in Brewster Weir Pool to maximise refuge habitat for the last known Lachlan population of the endangered olive perchlet, a small-bodied native fish.