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Working together to benefit river communities

Another peak summer recreation period has ended with minimal environmental water leaving Lake Eppalock.

For the third summer in a row, the North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) has worked with Goulburn Murray Water to time irrigation flows and system transfers to benefit the health of the Campaspe River downstream of Lake Eppalock.

The end result is, overall,  almost 40,000 megalitres of water planned for environmental flows remained in Lake Eppalock over the three summers.

Since early January, the lake has dropped by about 28,000ML, which is made up of water lost to evaporation, water released to meet irrigation demand and water transferred to downstream users.

"We understand the importance of our waterways for all our communities, both downstream of Lake Eppalock and around the reservoir itself," North Central CMA Environmental Water Manager Louissa Rogers said.

"Where we can, we work with other government agencies and community groups to ensure our flows benefit more than just the river.

"Our planned flows over the peak recreation period coincided with planned irrigation flows, so we worked with GMW to ensure the flow rates and the timing of the flows would benefit the fish, plants and platypus, and recreational users.

"Opportunities like this irrigation flow won't happen all the time, but it's important to make it a priority when we can. We have a strong partnership with GMW and we are both committed to doing the best for the river and its communities."

Goulburn Murray Water Managing Director Pat Lennon said the water corporation and CMA had worked together to provide benefits for GMW customers, the environment and our communities.

"This is proof of the great things we can achieve working together," Mr Lennon said.

Ms Rogers said the flows were building resilience back into a river decimated by the Millennium Drought and a century of regulation.

"Healthy river flows are not just about adding water. They are about adding the right amount of water, at the right time in the right place," she said.

"The river is looking magnificent and native fish numbers are increasing, and our management regime is producing results.

"That regime is continuing in the coming weeks. With the irrigation demand stopping, we will begin our regular autumn low flow.

"With the end of irrigation season close, water quality in the Campaspe can drop significantly. This flow, which will go through to late May, will help ensure water quality doesn't drop and help connect the separated pools that are expected to form in the coming months.

"Healthy deep pools are critical to the health of native fish."

Up to 50ML a day will flow down the river.

"We are monitoring targeted pools near Echuca for water quality to give us an indication of how much water we will need," Ms Rogers said.

"If water quality stays high, we won't need to put as much water down. It will be a matter of watching and seeing."

The Victorian Government's water plan - Water for Victoria -  recognises the need for the water sector to work with local communities to identify and support shared benefits of environmental water, including recreational uses where possible.

The flow is in line with the seasonal watering plan's wet scenario actions and regular updates are posted on the North Central CMA website www.nccma.vic.gov.au

Further Information

Anthony Radford
North Central CMA 
E: anthony.radford@nccma.vic.gov.au
Tel: 03 5440 1884 or 0409 720 610.

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