Annual environmental water priorities in the Murrumbidgee catchment

Water managers plan to supplement existing system flows to provide the maximum benefit to plants and animals in the catchment. By restoring a more natural flow pattern, we can aid in the movement of essential nutrients and native fish.

Priorities for 2021–22

In 2021–22, water managers in the Murrumbidgee will provide foraging and breeding habitat for waterbirds, turtles, frogs and other aquatic species in core areas of Yanga National Park, Gayini and the North Redbank wetlands.

Key Australasian bittern habitats will be watered in the Murrumbidgee and Coleambally irrigation areas and Yanco Creek systems and significant mid-Murrumbidgee and Yanco/Forest Creek sites currently out of reach of river flows will be provided with water via pumping.

An event is planned to maintain instream and deep water off-stream habitats for native fish and restore a more natural flow pattern that supports a robust food web and provides connections between the river and floodplain wetlands, which will help to support native fish populations.

A wetland reconnection flow event is planned to inundate hundreds of mid-Murrumbidgee wetlands and the Lowbidgee lakes, while removing the effects of 3 weirs within the lower Murrumbidgee river channel and maximising fish passage.

Further details on watering priorities for 2021–22 can be found in the Murrumbidgee Catchment – Water for the Environment: Annual Priorities (PDF 1.8MB)

Highlights from 2020–21

During 2020–21, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment worked with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and capitalised on the wet conditions across the catchment to deliver water for the environment to sites including the Gayini (formerly known as Nimmie-Caira), which received 193 gigalitres  and Yanga National Park, which received 112 gigalitres. Water was also used to benefit wetland habitats in the Murrumbidgee and Coleambally irrigation areas as well as the mid-Murrumbidgee, Lower Murrumbidgee, North Redbank, Forest Creek and Wanganella Swamp.

Over 40,000 hectares of wetland habitat was inundated with water for the environment in the Lowbidgee system. This abundant waterbird habitat triggered the largest ever colonial waterbird breeding event to be initiated and sustained solely by water for the environment.

One waterbird rookery in the Gayini wetland system contained 36,000 straw necked and glossy ibis. Numerous smaller colonial waterbird rookeries were also scattered throughout Yanga National Park, where Australasian bittern breeding was also detected.

Water for the environment also provided suitable conditions for golden perch recruitment in deep creeks adjacent to the lakes in Yanga National Park.

Deliveries of water for the environment continued to aid the recovery of the Southern Bell Frog across multiple wetland systems including the North Redbank, Coleambally Irrigation Area, Gayini and Yanga National Park wetlands.