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World Wetlands Day - 2 February 2013

World Wetlands Day provides a great chance to highlight how important healthy, well-managed wetlands are to our natural environment and local communities

Lower Latrobe Wetlands World Wetlands Day provides a great chance to highlight how important healthy, well-managed wetlands are to our natural environment and local communities.

"Victoria has many vibrant wetlands from the lower Latrobe wetlands which form the gateway to the Gippsland Lakes in eastern Victoria, the Hattah Lakes in northern Victoria, to the lower Barwon wetlands in south-western Victoria," Beth Ashworth, Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) Executive Officer said.

"A big part of the VEWH's mission is to work with its delivery partners to actively manage and improve the environmental health of wetlands across Victoria."

"This is done by managing wetlands through the current stage of their wetting and drying cycles. These cycles reflect the needs of the plant and animal communities that live there."

For example, the best flow regime in some wetlands is one year of full inundation, followed by two years allowing the wetland to dry. Other wetlands may require three years of inundation, with only one drying year between. Maintaining the balance between wetting and drying is vital in maintaining the diversity and health of the wetland system.

Lake Carpul, located in the Mallee CMA region alongside the River Murray highlights the importance of using environmental water to manage a wetland. Lake Carpul was in dire need of water as the last time it had been inundated was in 1993 as a result of River Murray flooding. Despite the long absence of water, Lake Carpul was identified as being in the best condition of all sites assessed in the 2009 index of wetland condition survey.

However, this lack of water was causing deterioration of the vegetation condition and without the pumping of 2,062 ML of environmental water in 2012, the condition of the lake would have continued to decline.

There was an amazing response from waterbirds as a result of the watering, with over 20 species recorded, including the blue-billed duck and great egret. The surrounding area also saw benefits with the river red gums and black box trees around the lakes flourishing and the surrounding environment becoming much healthier.

At the end of May 2012, the Mallee Catchment Management Authority held a well-attended community day to celebrate Lake Carpul's full benefits for the first time in nearly 20 years, thanks to environmental water.

"This, and many other examples of wetland management are featured in Reflections – environmental watering in Victoria 2011-12, which looks back at what happened in the environmental watering of Victoria's rivers, wetlands and floodplains in 2011-12."

Further Information

"Information about the current management of Victoria's wetlands can be found in the VEWH's Seasonal Watering Plan 2012-13, both of which are available on the VEWH website."

"Alternatively, you can contact your local waterway manager (Catchment Management Authority or Melbourne Water) for further information on your local wetlands," she said.

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