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Of some 2,000 natural wetlands in the Goulburn Broken area, only three in the Broken catchment (Black Swamp, Kinnairds Wetland and Moodie Swamp) can receive environmental water.

The Broken wetlands have been and continue to be places of significance for the Traditional Owners of the Yorta Yorta Nation. The wetlands traditionally provided a rich and diverse supply of plant and animal resources for food, medicines, shelter, clothing and tools. Some of the sites have artefacts and scar trees recorded in or adjacent to them. 

The wetlands support a range of recreational activities including birdwatching, bike riding, bush walking and camping. Moodie Swamp and Black Swamp are state game reserves.

Environmental watering objectives in the Broken wetlands

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Maintain feeding and breeding habitat for waterbirds, particularly for brolga, royal spoonbill and Australasian shoveler
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Maintain or improve the diversity of wetland vegetation
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Maintain populations of nationally threatened plant species (such as ridged water milfoil, slender water milfoil and river swamp wallaby grass)

Environmental values

The Broken wetlands (which include Moodie Swamp, Kinnairds Wetland and Black Swamp) support a high diversity of vegetation communities ranging from swamps dominated by river red gums to cane grass wetlands. The wetlands contain state and nationally threatened vegetation communities and species including ridged water milfoil and river swamp wallaby grass. The wetlands also provide food resources and breeding habitat for bird species listed in international agreements and conventions (such as the eastern great egret, Latham's snipe, white-bellied sea eagle and glossy ibis).

Social, cultural and economic values

The Broken wetlands have been and continue to be places of significance for the Traditional Owners of the Yorta Yorta Nation. The wetlands traditionally provided a rich and diverse supply of plant and animal resources for food, medicines, shelter, clothing and tools. Some of the sites have artefacts and scar trees recorded in or adjacent to them. 

The wetlands support a range of recreational activities including birdwatching, bike riding, bush walking and camping. Moodie Swamp and Black Swamp are state game reserves.

Conditions mid-2017

High rainfall and associated inflows filled Black Swamp, Kinnairds Wetland and Moodie Swamp in winter and spring 2016–17. Summer rainfall topped up the wetlands and prolonged their inundation. 

Moodie Swamp was still holding water into autumn 2017. The wetland supported a large number of waterbirds including nankeen night herons, brolga, whisked terns and buff-banded rails. Plumed whistling ducks, black swans, Eurasian coots, dusky moorhens and Australian wood ducks bred at the wetland in 2016–17. For the first time, both musk duck and the greater crested grebe were recorded at the wetland. The wetland vegetation responded well to the natural flooding with ridged water milfoil and a new species of water milfoil found at the wetland. 

Black Swamp received significant natural inflows in 2016 and remained wet until January 2017. Many young plants at Black Swamp were drowned in 2015–16 after someone deliberately tampered with a regulator, but the natural floods in 2016 have triggered new plant growth and a state-listed rare water nymph was found for the first time at Black Swamp in 2016. Bird surveys in December 2016 recorded the rare freckled duck using the wetland for the first time as well as large numbers of wading birds (such as herons, egrets and spoonbills). 

Natural inflows into Kinnairds Wetland attracted a variety of waterbirds. Royal spoonbills and pied cormorants bred at the wetland and the endangered blue-billed duck was observed.

Scope of environmental watering.

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

Potential environmental watering

Environmental objectives

Wetland watering

Moodie Swamp (fill in autumn/winter)

  • Maintain the diversity of wetland vegetation
  • Maintain populations of the nationally threatened ridged water milfoil and slender water milfoil
  • Provide waterbird feeding and breeding habitat, particularly for brolga

Wetland drying

Black Swamp and Kinnairds Wetland

  • These wetlands will not be actively watered in 2017–18
  • Drying of these wetlands will allow newly germinated and planted wetland plants to grow and set seed following

Risk management

In preparing its seasonal watering proposal, Goulburn Broken CMA considered and assessed the risks of environmental watering and identified mitigation strategies. Program partners continually reassess risks and mitigation actions throughout the water year.

Engagement

Waterway managers meet communities on environmental watering regionally, although other program partners also play a role.

In each region of Victoria, community engagement on environmental watering happens when environmental watering objectives and priorities are scoped (long term and annually), when delivering environmental water, and when reporting on environmental watering results.

In the Goulburn Broken region communities are involved in decisions about the Goulburn River and wetlands, Broken River and wetlands and the Murray River and wetlands. This happens through formal advisory groups: Environmental Water Advisory Groups focusing on rivers, a wetland advisory group and the Barmah Millewa Operations Advisory Group.

Who is engaged and how

Recreational users

Through formal advisory groups, recreational users provide local advice and raise opportunities for 'shared benefits' including whether the timing of environmental watering may align with key recreational events such as cod and duck opening. Recreational users are informed of environmental water deliveries and provide data that assists with reporting on the outcomes of environmental watering.

Goulburn-Murray Water directly engages with recreational user groups that use Goulburn-Murray Water water storages for recreation through planned consultations and meetings to discuss storage levels and potential impacts of environmental water releases from storages.

Environment groups

Through formal advisory groups, environment groups provide local knowledge, land management advice and advocate for the environment. They are also informed of environmental water deliveries and provide data that assists with reporting on the
outcomes of environmental watering.

Landholders/farmers

Through formal advisory groups, farmers and landholders (who often own land with river frontages) provide local knowledge and land management advice. They are also informed of environmental water deliveries and provide data that assists with reporting on the outcomes of environmental watering.

Traditional Owners

Through the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority Indigenous Facilitator, the Yorta Yorta Nation (responsible for managing some land and reserves in the region) is given the opportunity to provide input to seasonal watering proposals through annual briefings with the Catchment Management Authority.

There are Yorta Yorta representatives from the Goulburn Broken region who are members of the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations. The Victorian Environmental Water Holder, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and the Murray Darling Basin Authority engage Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations on strategic (often longer term) issues related to environmental watering.

Councils

Through the wetland advisory group (due to their role as land managers for some wetlands), Councils provide local advice.
They also support local advertising during water delivery and share data for reporting.

Goulburn-Murray Water consults with the Greater Shepparton City Council and the Moira Shire Council regularly on water management, including on environmental water management.

General public

The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority communicates through their website, media releases, advertisements in local papers, a column in Country News, in the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority bi-monthly newsletter, social media, radio, community forums and partnered research.