Annual environmental water priorities in the Murrumbidgee catchment

This year, managed watering events will focus on improving habitat and providing essential refuge for native fish, waterbirds and other aquatic species in the Murrumbidgee catchment.

Priorities for 2018–19

In the Murrumbidgee catchment, warmer and drier-than-average conditions are forecast for the coming year with the possibility of wetter conditions as the season progresses. 
Water managers plan to build on the outcomes achieved in 2017-18 through the careful management of available water to improve ecological health and the resilience of wetlands and floodplains in the catchment.

Watering events aim to restore a more natural flow pattern, supporting a robust food web and other system functions. Water will be managed to provide essential refuge habitat and connect floodplain wetlands with the river to aid in the movement of essential nutrients and native fish.

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 3MB).

Highlights from 2017–18

A significant golden perch breeding event occurred in the Murrumbidgee catchment in 2017–18.

The native fish bred in response to a whole-of-system flow that reconnected hundreds of wetlands between the Mid-Murrumbidgee and the Murray junction.

Using water from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and NSW Government, water managers connected floodplain wetlands with the river, boosting the availability of food and providing access to important habitat.

Monitoring at Yanga Lake revealed the presence of hundreds of thousands of juvenile golden perch that are likely to have spawned in the river or Yanga Creek during the winter flow event.

The lake provides a great nursery environment for the fish to grow and a food source for thousands of pelicans and other birds that feed on the fish.

Water manager James Maguire said the successful breeding event was a reminder of how important floodplain wetlands are in providing nursery habitat and food for native fish and the broader floodplain ecosystem.

‘In 2017-18, we were also able to provide water to maintain refuge habitat for native fish, southern bell frogs and turtles, as well as listed waterbird species such as Australasian bitterns,’ Mr Maguire said.

Approximately 266.9 gigalitres of water has been delivered in the Murrumbidgee in 2017–18. Of this, 236 gigalitres was used for the Murrumbidgee Reconnection Flow completed in August 2017.