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Wimmera CMA

Street Address:
24 Darlot Street, Horsham, 3400
(enter via Gleed St)

Postal Address:
PO Box 479, Horsham, VIC, 3402
Phone: (03) 5382 1544
Fax: (03) 5382 6076
Email: wcma@wcma.vic.gov.au
 
Office Hours:
Monday to Friday, 8:30 - 5:00pm
(excluding Public Holidays and Christmas - New Year Closure.  Office may also be closed for short periods Monday mornings)

Rivers & Streams

Rivers and streams are iconic in the Wimmera and provide a place of relief for the often hot and dry landscape.  Rivers and streams provide social and recreational opportunities across all councils and are of significant cultural value to indigenous and non-indigenous community members.  Rivers and streams create natural wildlife corridors and support much of the flora and fauna.  After years of over extraction, Wimmera CMA are now in a position to significantly improve the health of rivers and streams in the Wimmera, thanks to the completion of the Wimmera-Mallee pipeline project.  Wimmera CMA currently provide incentives for landholders to fence off riparian zones, manage environmental water allocations, and closely monitor key indicators. Wimmera CMA are already starting to see reduced levels of salinity and turbidity levels, increased micro invertebrates and improved riparian vegetation as more people participate and support our efforts.

 
 Wimmera RiverWimmera River

Wimmera waterways

The waterways of the Wimmera are the lifeblood of the region with their health having a direct impact on not only the environment, but also the social and economic health of the communities surrounding them.

The major waterway in the catchment is the Wimmera River. Its catchment is approximately 2.4 million hectares with numerous tributaries rising in Mt Cole and the Pyrenees ranges, joining the main Wimmera River upstream of Glenorchy. Water is also received from the major sub-catchments of Wattle Creek, Concongella, and Mt William Creeks. The Wimmera River flows west to Horsham where it collects the waters of Burnt Creek and, just downstream, the MacKenzie River and Norton Creek from the south. The MacKenzie River and these other streams flow from the northern part of the Grampians and Black Range, which lie at the southern boundary of the river’s catchment. Water is supplied by channels, to storages in the Wimmera from Rocklands and Moora Moora Reservoirs on the Glenelg River, and diversion weirs on the upper Wannon River.

East of Mt Arapiles the Wimmera River swings to the north and continues through Dimboola and Jeparit to Lake Hindmarsh; Victoria’s largest freshwater lake. During exceptionally wet periods, Lake Hindmarsh overflows into the ephemeral Outlet Creek and on to Lake Albacutya; a Ramsar-listed wetland, extending to the Wirrengren Plain in Victoria’s Mallee. Historic records show flooding of lakes beyond Lake Albacutya, though they have not received floodwater since 1976. The episodic nature of flows into these terminal lakes means that they can be empty for many years before floodwaters fill them for at least a couple of years, watering fringe vegetation and providing a mecca for thousands of migratory water birds.

Wimmera Catchment Basins & waterbodiesWimmera Catchment Basins, Waterways and wetlands

The Wimmera River between Polkemmet (10km north-west of Horsham) and Wirrengren Plain has been proclaimed a Victorian Heritage River due to its significant environmental and social values (Heritage Rivers Act 1992).

One notable feature of the system is the distributaries – Yarriambiack and Dunmunkle Creeks – which carry water from the Wimmera River. Yarriambiack Creek, during floods, flows from Longerenong through Warracknabeal, Brim and Beulah into Lake Coorong near Hopetoun. The Dunmunkle Creek, a highly modified stream, carries water north from Glenorchy through Rupanyup dissipating in the southern Mallee during floods.

The Millicent Coast Basin, within the Wimmera catchment boundary, is characterised by a number of streams that flow west into South Australia. Management of these streams, including Mosquito, Koijak, Morambro, Tatiara, and Thompson Creeks, is also important given that rivers, streams, floodplains, and wetlands do not end at the State border. Mosquito Creek is a high priority as it flows through to Ramsar-listed Bool Lagoon. There are also stand-alone streams that feed other wetlands, for example Natimuk Creek.

A large variety of wildlife rely on local rivers and streams for habitat, which act as natural corridors in a largely agricultural landscape. These include waterway dependant species such as freshwater catfish and platypus.

Most population centres are located adjacent to rivers and streams for historic water supply and aesthetic purposes. Many of which have weir pools including Horsham, Warracknabeal, Dimboola, Jeparit, Jung, Glenorchy, Great Western, Brim, and Elmhurst. Camping, fishing, walking, canoeing, rowing, bird watching, and swimming are popular activities that local residents enjoy.

There is a rich cultural history associated with the region’s rivers and streams. The local indigenous community retains a strong connection to rivers and streams. Sites of cultural significance abound along riverbanks and floodplains, with a successful native title claim along much of the lower Wimmera River.
The Wimmera’s rivers and streams provide much of the water needs for towns and farms, especially via the Wimmera-Mallee pipeline. As well as supporting some irrigation of vines, pasture, and annual crops. Water is also supplied to local industry and mining enterprises. Rivers and streams underpin local tourism and recreation; people come from afar to enjoy the fishing, rowing, water skiing, and bird watching opportunities afforded, bringing significant tourism dollars.

Wimmera River 'A Flowing Tale'

The Wimmera River links the upper catchment communities like Elmhurst with ones many kilometres away in the lower catchment like Jeparit and Dimboola and underpinning many of the cultural, social, economic, and environmental values the region possesses. Much of the region bore witness to the changes the river underwent from the grips of record drought to the risks posed by massive floods. Amongst these events were milestones such as the completion of the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline and the return of the Dimboola Rowing Regatta. This six-part series provides a fantastic insight into the Wimmera River itself and the people who want to see it continue to improve in its condition and significance.

Working with other NRM partners

MDBA

The Wimmera catchment falls within the Murray-Darling Basin and therefore, Wimmera CMA works closely with Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA).
The MDBA was established under the federal Water Act 2007, as an independent, expertise based statutory agency. Their role includes advising a six-member Authority, of which the MDBA Chief Executive is a member, about Basin-wide strategy, policy, and planning. The MDBA undertakes activities that support the sustainable and integrated management of the water resources of the Murray-Darling Basin in a way that best meets the social, economic, and environmental needs of the Basin and its communities.

In March 2013, the Victorian Government released a fact sheet ‘What the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’ means for Victoria. Wimmera CMA is contributing to meeting the requirements of the Basin Plan through a number of technical and planning processes.
Victoria and Basin Plan fact sheet:  Victoria and Basin Plan.

Connecting the Catchments

Wimmera CMA is also part of a cross-border partnership between Victorian and South Australian water resource management agencies called 'Connecting the Catchments.'

Why it is important to keep our rivers and streams healthy

It is important to keep Wimmera rivers and streams healthy because they provide:

  • a healthy environment to enjoy and to live, relax, swim, and work
  • good water quality for stock and domestic animals
  • investment opportunities for environmentally-based tourism
  • recreational and commercial fishing opportunities
  • support flora and fauna that rely on water.

Challenges

  • unfortunately, many Wimmera rivers, creeks, and wetlands are under threat from reduced flows, sedimentation and erosion, invasion by pest plants and animals, and declining water quality
  • gully and land erosion occurs extensively throughout the catchment, particularly in the upper Wimmera, and is contributing significant sediment to waterways. The associated decline in water quality is further exacerbated by grazing pressure on the bed and banks of waterways
  • carp
  • climate change.

How the CMA improves the health of Wimmera waterways

Wimmera Waterway Strategy is the guiding document for the long-term management of the region’s waterways. The strategy sets out actions for improving the health of the region’s rivers, creeks, and wetlands and aims to achieve this through the following key methods and activities:

  • weed and rabbit control to prevent bank erosion and increase native biodiversity
  • riparian fencing and revegetation to stabilise banks from eroding and provide natural filtering of water runoff
  • waterway restoration works and programs to stabilise bank and streambed erosion and improve water quality
  • education initiatives to teach others ways they can help look after our waterways and why we do certain things a particular way
  • returning of water to the waterways through environmental water releases helps improve water quality and provide a better habitat for plants and animals. People can also enjoy water activities with better water quality
  • monitoring and reporting on waterway health to track conditions and activities that are helping to improve water quality
  • working with other NRM agencies for integrated management of the catchments, including other catchment management authorities Murray- Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and within the Connecting the Catchments partnership

Monitoring and recording health

Wimmera CMA also undertakes a detailed, comprehensive monitoring program to provide information to maximise the effect of riparian and wetland works as well as environmental flows. It also enables the Wimmera CMA to monitor overall condition of environmental assets and track progress against goals and targets in strategies and plans.