24 Darlot Street, Horsham, 3400
(enter via Gleed St)
PO Box 479, Horsham, VIC, 3402
Phone: (03) 5382 1544
Fax: (03) 5382 6076
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)
Environmental water releases are designed to supply sufficient volumes based on scientific recommendations to improve conditions for aquatic, wetland, and riparian ecosystems. In the Wimmera’s regulated rivers and creeks these are typically base flows and freshening flows, which assist in improving water quality and habitat for aquatic species as well as increasing the abundance and diversity of riparian and aquatic vegetation. Sometimes flows are deliberately stopped for a number of days in summer/autumn, which is called a ‘cease to flow,’ reflecting the typical conditions during those drier months.
Environmental water releases occur as either volumes released from storage, that are deducted from the Bulk Entitlement allocation held by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH), or as passing flows, where a proportion of stream flows, that makes their way to weirs or water storages, is allowed to continue. Passing flows do not apply to environmental water releases for wetlands.
Some parts of the flow regime for rivers and creeks (such as high and overbank flows) cannot be delivered via weirs and storages due to outlet capacities and flooding risks. However, these overbank and high flows happen in much of the region when conditions are wet enough such as during the spring/summer of 2010-2011. In some instances of wetlands that are supplied by the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline, limited pipe capacities means that localised run off, under wet conditions, is required to fill them and releases can only inundate a small proportion of the wetland.
Creeks, rivers, and wetlands that are watered and the volumes they receive, vary on an annual basis and are dependent on a number of factors such as: the allocations available, catchment conditions, what water has been provided in previous years, and the watering needs of the environmental values of these waterways. These are all considered during the planning process for environmental watering which in turn is submitted as a Seasonal Watering Proposal to the VEWH for their consideration and inclusion in their Seasonal Watering Plan for Victorian rivers, wetlands, and floodplains. The VEWH then authorises the Wimmera CMA to implement certain elements of the Seasonal Watering Plan depending on allocations. Wimmera CMA implements the authorised components with water storage managers GWMWater, who release the water on the CMA’s behalf. The storage manager has discretion over these releases if they affect other objectives like efficiency of storage operations.
Wimmera CMA's and Western Region (including the Wimmera) proposed seasonal watering plans.
The annual Wimmera environmental water forum was held on 20th September in Drung and included presentations (below) around the socio-economic benefits of environmental and recreational water in the Wimmera and Southern Mallee as well as environmental water availability and indicative plans for environmental watering in 2017-18.
Environmental Water Flow updates are released each season to report what water flows are occurring and scheduled for that season and to share information on how these flows are helping our environment.
It’s spring! As the weather warms up and the days get longer, what better place to enjoy it than by the banks of the Wimmera River or cruising along in your canoe or boat? Even better with a fishing rod in hand.
Angling identity Rex Hunt is the voice of a new film touting the angling virtues of the Wimmera River. “It’s no secret my two passions are footy and fishing, and the Wimmera is the perfect breeding ground for both. Footy legends like Tim Watson and Adam Goodes grew up near the banks of the Wimmera River, one of my favourite inland rivers to fish. Just like country footy and netball clubs, the Wimmera River connects communities and towns, helps them prosper and makes them great places to visit and live.”
Local angling expert Chris Spence and Jeparit Angling Club’s Brett Ireland also lend their voices to the film, and their message is loud and clear – environmental flows help ensure anglers have a great day out on the water.
Chris says he caught his first fish in the Wimmera River when he was four years old, and it got him ‘hooked for life’. He says he’s proud to spruik that it’s one of the best rivers in Victoria to fish, with one of the state’s best golden perch fisheries and a unique catfish fishery as well. “Now that we’ve seen firsthand what these environmental flows do when timed right, they’re an absolute bonus to anglers. When flows are on we see a spark in activity and anglers can explore more water.”
Watch the film
To coincide with the film release, Wimmera CMA is launching a new webpage that provides up-to- date information on flows and water quality for the creeks and rivers that receive environmental flows. The map adds to other information sources such as Wimmera CMA’s Facebook page and the SMS service that updates subscribers on the latest environmental flows.
Access the map via www.wcma.vic.gov.au/riverflowsmap
Baseflows and freshes – Wimmera River, MacKenzie River, Upper Burnt Creek & lower Mt William Creek
Water for Wetlands Supplied by Pipeline – Carapugna, Wal Wal Swamp, Tarkedia, Challambra Swamp, Sawpit Swamp & Crow Swamp
Environmental releases aim to mimic natural flow events, and complement natural flows. Fish are more likely to be on the bite in the warmer months when small pulses flow down the river. If there is heavy rain and natural flows are occurring, environmental flows are ceased.
The Environmental Water Management Plan for the Wimmera River System establishes environmental objectives for the Wimmera River and its regulated tributaries (lower Mt William Creek, MacKenzie River, Burnt Creek and Bungalally Creek) as well as the Yarriambiack Creek, the scientifically determined environmental water requirements to attain these objectives set out over a multi-year watering regime (assuming sufficient environmental water is available).
Wimmera River System Environmental Watering Management Plan
Wimmera CMA offers a SMS alert service, which sends text messages concerning when and where environmental flows are occurring, what they aim to achieve, and flow rates.
To sign up, send a sms with the word ‘register’ and full name and locality to 0427 871 565 or email Wimmera CMA.
Text messages will provide information specifically about environmental flows released from storages. Natural flows along creeks and rivers will not be part of this service.
These fact sheets by Victorian Environmental Water Holder help to further explain why we need environmental flows:
Find out more about environmental flows on this video: why we need environmental flows
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