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The natural watering regimes of wetlands throughout the broader Loddon system have been substantially modified by the construction of levees and channels across the floodplain and by the construction and operation of reservoirs and weirs along the Loddon River. Water is delivered to the Boort wetlands through Loddon Valley Irrigation Area infrastructure.

The availability of water for the environment for the Boort wetlands is closely linked to water available for the Loddon River system. The ability to deliver water for the environment to the wetlands is sometimes limited by channel-capacity constraints. The VEWH and North Central CMA work with the storage manager (Goulburn-Murray Water) to best meet environmental objectives within capacity constraints.

Environmental watering objectives in the Boort wetlands

icon-objectives-fish
Increase the population of large and small- bodied fish species
Frog icon
Increase the diversity and population of native frogs including by enhancing breeding opportunities
Maintain the population of freshwater turtles, in particular Murray River turtles
Plant icon
Rehabilitate and increase the extent of emergent and aquatic vegetation (aquatic herblands, tall marsh), intermittent swampy woodland and riverine chenopod woodland Maintain the health and restore the distribution of river red gums and associated floristic community across the wetland bed Maintain the extent and restore the health of black box vegetation
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Support a high diversity of wetland birds by enhancing feeding and breeding conditions

Environmental values

The Boort wetlands provide habitat for a range of plant and animal species. At Lake Yando, 12 rare plant species have been recorded including the jerry-jerry and water nymph. Bird species recorded at Lake Boort, Lake Leaghur and Lake Meran include the white-bellied sea eagle, Latham's snipe and eastern great egret. Little Lake Meran is a swampy woodland with black box trees on the highest wet margins and river red gums fringing the waterline.

Recent conditions

Rainfall throughout the Loddon catchment and the Boort wetlands was drier than average throughout 2018–19,
but summer storms resulted in above-average rainfall in December. The Boort wetlands received no natural inflows, and the very hot and dry conditions over summer and autumn accelerated drying in the wetlands that held water from previous years.

Lakes Boort, Leaghur, Yando and Meran were all naturally flooded in spring 2016 and water levels are continuing
to recede, allowing wetland plants an opportunity to establish. Little Lake Meran was the only lake in the Boort wetlands system to receive water for the environment in 2018–19. Little Lake Meran is normally disconnected from the Loddon floodplain, except during exceptionally high floods (such as in 2011). After flooding in 2011, river red gums germinated around the edges of the lake. Water for the environment was delivered to Little Lake Meran in May 2018, and follow-up watering was delivered in August and September, to promote the growth of naturally recruited river red gums and fringing vegetation.

Scope of environmental watering

Table 1 Potential environmental watering actions and objectives for the Boort wetlands

Potential environmental watering action

Functional watering objective

Environmental objective

Loddon River (reach 1)

Lake Meran (top-up in spring to maintain critical water level)

  • Increase the water depth to maintain an appropriate water temperature for aquatic animals and provide a refuge for freshwater turtles, waterbirds and fish, helping to support recruitment
  • Promote the growth and increase the extent of lake bed herbland vegetation by wetting the wetland fringe
Fish iconFrog iconTurtle iconPlant iconHeron icon
Lake Yando (fill in spring, with top-ups as required to support waterbird breeding)
  • Provide moisture to promote the germination and recruitment of river red gums and maintain the existing mature trees
  • Support the growth of aquatic and semi-aquatic plant species, providing habitat for aquatic animals
Frog iconTurtle iconPlant iconHeron icon
Lake Yando (partial fill in autumn, if fill in spring is not possible)1

Lake Leaghur (partial fill in autumn)

  • Prime the wetland for spring watering in 2020–21 by stimulating the early germination of wetland vegetation, attracting waterbirds to feed and breed in early spring/summer 2020 as the weather warms up
  • Promote winter feeding conditions for waterbirds and frogs
  • Reduce the volume of water required to fill the wetland in spring 2020–21
Frog icon Plant iconHeron icon

Wetland drying

Little Lake Meran and Lake Boort (promote natural drawdown/drying)

  • These wetlands will be in a drying phase in 2019–20
  • Promote the establishment and growth of fringing vegetation and herbland species

Engagement

Table 2 shows the partners and stakeholder organisations with which North Central CMA engaged when preparing their seasonal watering proposals.

Seasonal watering proposals are informed by longer-term regional catchment strategies, regional waterway strategies, environmental flow studies, water management plans and other studies. These incorporate a range of environmental, cultural, social and economic perspectives and longerterm integrated catchment and waterway management objectives. For further details, refer to the North Central Regional Catchment Strategy and North Central  Waterway Strategy.

Table 2 Partners and stakeholders engaged in developing the Loddon system seasonal watering proposal

Partner and stakeholder engagement
  • Individual Landholders
  • Commonwealth Environmental Water Office
  • Goulburn- Murray Water
  • Victorian Environmental Water Holder
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
  • Field and Game Australia
  • VRFish
  • Barapa Barapa Traditional Owners
  • Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation
  • Wamba Wemba Traditional Owners