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Rain shifts environmental water focus to wetter season in northern Victoria

Good winter rain and an optimistic forecast means Victoria's environmental water holder is adjusting environmental water deliveries to rivers and wetlands for a wetter season in northern Victoria.

 The Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) Acting Chairperson Geoff Hocking says annual environmental water planning considers possible changes in the weather.
 
"We plan for a range of scenarios – from drought to wet – adjusting environmental water deliveries according to conditions," he said.

"We are subject to water allocations the same as any other water user such as farmers and industry.

"The amount of rain we've experienced recently means allocations have increased. On 1 July we had 0% allocations in most northern Victorian systems; now we have around 50% in most northern Victorian systems."
 
The increased rainfall means some waterways will need less environmental water delivered to them while for others it will be a great opportunity to deliver more water to make the most of natural flows.
 
Natural flooding across the rivers, creeks and wetlands adjoining the River Murray means environmental water may be lessened or not required at all for some sites over winter and spring. For example, winter high flows originally planned to be released in August down the Campaspe no longer need to be provided as these were met by natural flows.
 
On the other hand, some of the larger sites might need more water to achieve environmental objectives only able to be achieved by building on high flows while there is more water available.
 
"We are always looking for opportunities to build on rainfall to get the most out of environmental water and meet targets we would otherwise not be able to meet without these natural flows," Mr Hocking said.
 
"For instance, we are currently using environmental water from the Living Murray program to maintain higher flows in the Murray for the Barmah-Millewa Forest. This will maximise the environmental outcomes we can achieve this year at this important site."
 
During the Millenium drought, the environment really struggled. Environmental watering focused on maintaining critical refuges, ensuring when it got wetter the environment could spring back.
 
"We know how quickly conditions can change and therefore it's important environmental water responds to changing conditions. This enables rivers and wetlands to be resilient if conditions turn dry again."
 
The VEWH is an independent statutory body which prioritises and coordinates environmental watering in Victoria. The VEWH and its partners do not undertake environmental watering where it could flood private land unless the landowner has consented.
 
Environmental water is specifically managed to improve the health of rivers and wetlands, plants and animals.

It also intrinsically provides broader social benefits to communities by improving amenity for fishing, camping and canoeing; sustaining healthy Country for Aboriginal communities with a continuing connection to rivers, wetlands and floodplains; and improving water quality which can have indirect economic benefits for irrigation and urban water supply.
 
Environmental watering is carried out in line with the Seasonal Watering Plan 2016-17.

Further Information

For further information please call
03 9637 8951 or email
general.enquiries@vewh.vic.gov.au.

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