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Large-scale spring watering of Barmah Forest

The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority and Victorian Environmental Water Holder have planned for a large-scale environmental watering event in Barmah Forest, which is now underway and will continue throughout the remainder of spring.

Moira Grass on Hut Lake

Moira Grass on Hut Lake, Barmah Forest

The event will be part of a multi-site watering in the River Murray system, providing additional benefits for locations downstream including the Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth. The multi-site watering event is a coordinated delivery involving a number of environmental water holders, which include the Living Murray, Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, Victorian Environmental Water Holder and New South Wales.

Within Barmah Forest, the watering event aims to improve the health of floodplain vegetation communities, as well as providing benefits to fish, turtle and waterbird populations. In particular, it aims to regenerate threatened moira grass plains, the extent of which has declined by 96 per cent over the past 80 years. Without this watering, the moira grass plains could be entirely lost from the Barmah Forest within a matter of years.

The watering event builds on natural high flows which have been occurring since late July 2013, resulting in widespread inundation of the forest. Held environmental water is now required to bridge any gaps between high natural flow events to maintain the targeted depth and duration of forest flooding.

To achieve these, a minimum flow of 15,000 ML per day will be targeted downstream of Yarrawonga, catchment and weather conditions permitting. Delivery agencies are working directly with adjacent landowners to mitigate risks to private land.

Barmah Forest is one of six Living Murray 'Icon Sites' chosen for their environmental and cultural significance, in this case being home to many threatened native plants and wildlife species, and containing many cultural heritage sites including scarred trees and artefacts.

Past environmental watering events have successfully improved the health of river red gums, stimulated bird breeding events and increased the diversity and abundance of native fish.

The watering event is consistent with the Victorian Environmental Water Holder's Seasonal Watering Plan 2013-14.

Further Information

please visit the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority website at www.gbcma.vic.gov.au.

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