The combined efforts of community members and government organisations are having a positive impact on the health and resilience of local rivers, wetlands and floodplains. The Murrumbidgee Environmental Water Advisory Group (EWAG) provides advice on the management of water for the environment within the catchment.
The group is made up of community representatives, a range of stakeholder groups, First Nations, and government departments . It provides a point of interface between the community and the NSW Water for the Environment program.
The Murrumbidgee EWAG's recent achievements include:
- Continuing oversight of a 5-year long term intervention monitoring agreement with Charles Sturt University and other partners
- Environmental flows throughout the Gayini wetlands resulting in significant pelican, Ibis and spoonbills rookeries
- Environmental flow events in the lower Murrumbidgee to provide refuges for native fish during low dissolved oxygen periods
- Environmental flow events in the mid to lower Billabong Creek to provide refuges for native fish during low dissolved oxygen periods
- Environmental flow events in the Coleambally irrigation area with significant southern bell frog outcomes
Senior Environmental Water Manager James Maguire said the Murrumbidgee EWAG played an important role in guiding the decision-making process.
'The Environmental Water Advisory Group recently inspected newly inundated wetlands in the western lakes system,’ Mr Maguire said.
'The application of water for the environment in this system has recently triggered waterbird breeding in species such as cormorants, swans and ducks such as the threatened bluebill duck.
'The wetlands are also home to recovering populations of the threatened southern bell frog, whose numbers are now on the increase following many years of strategic flow management.
'With input from the Murrumbidgee EWAG, work is underway to manage rates of recession following ongoing airspace releases,’ he said.
In the Murrumbidgee valley, sources of water for the environment include three allowances established under the Water Sharing Plan for the Murrumbidgee Regulated River Water Source 2016, adaptive environmental water held by the Department of Planning and Environment (former Office of Environment and Heritage) and allocations made available from entitlements held by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office.
The Murrumbidgee EWAG is made up of representatives from
- NSW Local Land Services (Riverina)
- First Nations representatives
- the NSW Department of Primary Industries
- NSW Fisheries
- Yanco Creek and Tributaries Advisory Council (YACTAC)
- Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists
- Nature Conservation Council of NSW
- Environment and Heritage Group