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River and wetland watering plan released

The Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) has released its annual watering plan to support the health of the state's rivers and wetlands and the wildlife that depends on them.

The Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) has released its annual watering plan to support the health of the state's rivers and wetlands and the wildlife that depends on them.

The Seasonal Watering Plan 2015-16 sets out where and when environmental water might be released across Victoria under a range of climate and water availability scenarios.

The VEWH – the independent state body which prioritises environmental watering across Victoria – has advised that, despite low inflows being forecast alongside drier El Nino conditions, environmental water 'carried over' from last year will support river and wetland health across the state.

If the forecast dry conditions eventuate, environmental watering will still be able to continue but with scaled back objectives in some regions. In these cases, environmental watering would focus on avoiding irreversible loss and providing refuges for wildlife. Environmental watering would aim to maintain water quality to prevent the deaths of fish and other water animals. It would also target protection of threatened species.

With higher water availability, environmental watering in 2015-16 will aim to: boost the resilience of waterways; trigger fish and waterbird breeding; provide habitat pools for water animals including platypus, frogs and reptiles; create drinking holes for land animals; and boost native vegetation – including river red gums – along river banks and floodplains.

VEWH Chairman, Denis Flett, said: "Environmental water is critical in keeping waterways – and the life within and around them – healthy. This has ongoing benefits for local communities including for recreation (such as fishing) as well as the homes and farms that rely on healthy, functioning rivers.

"If the forecast El Nino conditions eventuate, it will be even more important that we manage environmental water efficiently and effectively to support the health of our waterways, and the wildlife and communities that depend on them."

The Seasonal Watering Plan was developed with catchment management authorities and Melbourne Water, drawing from scientific studies and community knowledge. Where possible, environmental watering actions identify opportunities for additional social and cultural benefits, including recreation. Final watering decisions will take into account climate, environmental priorities, water availability and operational and ecological conditions.

Victoria's Seasonal Watering Plan is available at the Victorian Environmental Water Holder website http://www.vewh.vic.gov.au. For more information about environmental watering in your region visit http://www.vewh.vic.gov.au/environmental-water/environmental-watering-in-your-region

Further Information

contact the VEWH on (03) 9637 8077 or by email at general.enquiries@vewh.vic.gov.au

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