The Barmah-Millewa Forest covers 66,000 ha and straddles the Murray and Edwards rivers between the townships of Tocumwal, Deniliquin and Echuca. The Victorian component is the Barmah National Park and River Murray Reserve covering 28,500 ha of forest and wetlands.
Water management in the Barmah-Millewa Forest depends on gravity distribution from the River Murray. When river flows are above 15,000 ML/day downstream of Yarrawonga Weir, both sides of the forest are managed as a whole. When flow is less than 15,000 ML/day, each side of the forest can be managed separately by operating the regulators individually. When flow downstream of Yarrawonga Weir is less than 10,500 ML/day, all regulators are usually closed to prevent unseasonal flooding of the forest in summer and autumn.
River regulation and water extraction from the River Murray has reduced the frequency, duration and magnitude of flood events in the Barmah-Millewa Forest. This has reduced the diversity, extent and condition of vegetation communities and the habitat and health of dependent animal species.
Environmental water releases aim to protect essential habitat under dry conditions and when possible to build on unregulated flows and consumptive water en route to optimise environmental outcomes. Environmental water delivered to the forest can often be used again at sites further downstream as part of multisite watering events.