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The Broken Creek diverges from the Broken River downstream of Benalla and flows to the River Murray near Barmah Forest. The creek is located on a flat riverine plain and has naturally low run-off from its local catchment. It also receives flood flows from the Broken River, although these are much less frequent than occurred naturally due to earthworks and road construction.

Upper Broken Creek is the section of creek from Caseys Weir to Katamatite which extends about 65 kilometres. The creek has been used for water supply from the Broken River for more than 100 years, although irrigation entitlements have been significantly reduced (by more than 80 percent) as part of water savings projects in the last ten years. There are now low flows all year round at the top of the creek (Caseys Weir to Waggarandal Weir) as water can only be supplied from Broken River based on orders from customers in the creek. In the lower reaches (Waggarandal Weir to Reillys Weir and Reillys Weir to Katamatite), the system is most influenced by rainfall and catchment run-off which provides infrequent flow variability. Diverting water from the Broken River to the top reach may achieve some environmental objectives.

System map

Broken System
Grey river reaches have been included for context. The numbered reaches indicate where relevant environmental flow studies have been undertaken. Coloured reaches can receive environmental water.

Environmental watering objectives in the Upper Broken Creek

Landscape icon
Move built-up sand and clay material to restore deep pools and provide habitat for water animals
Fish icon
Protect and boost populations of native fish (including threatened Murray cod and golden perch) by improving pool habitat
Insect icon
Support a wide range of waterbugs to provide energy, break down dead organic matter and support the river’s food chain
Plant icon
Improve and maintain plants on the riverbank and in the river channel
Water icon
Maintain water quality

Environmental values

The upper Broken Creek area is dominated by unique box riparian plants and supports remnant plains grassy woodland. Much of this area also lies in the Broken–Boosey State Park, which contains high-quality native plants. The creek supports a variety of threatened animals including fish species such as the carp gudgeon, Murray cod, golden perch and Murray–Darling rainbowfish.

Social and economic values

Most of upper Broken Creek is in the Broken–Boosey State Park which contains a range of Aboriginal cultural heritage values including scar trees and sites of significance for Traditional Owners. The system also support a range of recreational and tourism values, providing opportunities for bushwalking, fishing and bird watching. Upper Broken Creek is an important source of water and a delivery mechanism for some stock, domestic and irrigation water users.

Conditions mid-2016

Over the last 10 years, flows in the upper Broken Creek have not exceeded 70 megalitres (ML)  per day with minimal high-flow variability. No environmental water was delivered to the upper Broken Creek in 2015–16, although an autumn delivery to Moodie Swamp provided some benefit to the creek through increased flows on the way to the wetland.

Scope of environmental watering

Table 1 Potential environmental watering actions and objectives for the upper Broken Creek system

Potential environmental watering

Environmental objectives

Summer/autumn fresh (1 fresh of up to 200 ML/day for 2 days in December–May)

  • Rehabilitate deep pool habitats and facilitate the movement of sediments
  • Maintain and enhance riparian and in-channel vegetation (water ribbons and river red gum communities) with variable wet and dry zones
  • Maintain water quality, particularly in refuge pools
  • Maintain and restore waterbug habitat by providing occasional freshes to complete life cycles

Scenario planning

If there is any allocation made available in the Broken system, the use of Commonwealth environmental water is considered available for use in the creek, but it may need to be prioritised against delivery to Moodie Swamp. More water is required to achieve the identified potential watering actions with an extra 147 ML required to deliver a summer/autumn fresh.

Table 2 Potential environmental watering for the upper Broken Creek system under a range of planning scenarios

Planning scenario

Drought

Dry

Average

Wet

Expected river conditions

  • No unregulated flows
  • Minimal unregulated flows
  • Some contribution of unregulated flows in upper Broken Creek, particularly in winter/spring

Expected availability of environmental water

  • 0 ML
  • 10 ML
  • 253 ML

Potential environmental watering

  • Summer/autumn fresh

Possible volume of environmental water required to achieve objectives

  • Up to 400 ML

Risk management

In preparing its seasonal watering proposal, Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority considered and assessed risks and identified mitigating strategies relating to the implementation of environmental watering. Risks and mitigating actions are continually reassessed by program partners 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.