The planning that underpins the use and success of environmental water over multiple years is a highlight of the 2017–18 water year.
It is difficult to beat a natural large-scale flood event when it comes to re-energising the river, floodplain and wetland system. The challenge is maintaining those gains until the next flood arrives.
The Macquarie–Castlereagh’s 3-year release strategy is a road-map for the use of water for the environment to support the Macquarie Marshes and native fish over the coming 3 years or until the next big wet – which-ever comes first.
Although this is not the first multi-year plan to be developed, its evolution to include connection flows with the Barwon River highlights the growing maturity and sophistication of planning undertaken by the Macquarie–Castlereagh Environmental Water Advisory Group.
The 3-year plan:
- is conservative, as it assumes that no further water will be allocated during the period
- provides certainty for future years, with water held in reserve and if conditions remain dry this water will be used to maintain about 19,000 hectares of semi-permanent, mixed marshes and red gum woodlands
- caters for optimism, by prioritising and distributing new allocations to build water security and service additional ecological requirements if identified during a water year.
OEH, in consultation with the Macquarie–Castlereagh Environmental Water Advisory Group, looked beyond the Macquarie catchment to provide a connection flow, if suitable triggers occur, with the Barwon River. This will support the movement of golden perch (and other native fish species) into the Macquarie River.
Photo: Strategic Macquarie–Cudgegong Environmental Water Advisory Group planning meeting for the Macquarie Marshes. Tim Hosking/OEH