Conditions in the Western region have improved significantly with rain over much of winter and early spring.
Water allocation to the rivers entitlement has increased significantly, resulting in higher environmental water availability than in 2014-15 and 2015-16. The Wimmera-Mallee wetlands water entitlement has received allocation for the first time since 2013-14.
Higher inflows into reservoirs means it is likely that water allocations will continue to increase.
Rain has given the rivers a good chance to recover from last year's drought. Environmental water deliveries to the Wimmera and Glenelg river systems in 2016-17 are still focused on the higher risk summer period and are expected to start in late spring and continue through to autumn, depending on weather conditions.
Environmental water is expected to be delivered to wetlands in spring. They will be assessed in late summer and some wetlands could receive more environmental water in autumn when deliveries are able to start again.
If wetter conditions continue, increasing the magnitude, frequency and duration of watering in rivers will be considered.
If dry conditions return, environmental watering will be limited to protecting water quality in the Wimmera and Glenelg rivers, capitalising on wet conditions in early 2016-17 and helping plants and animals recover from drought. Saving water to carry over into 2017-18 will be a priority in both situations.
The Murray–Darling Basin Plan
The Wimmera system forms part of the larger Murray–Darling Basin and water diversions and environmental water deliveries in this region are also subject to the requirements of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan.
The VEWH's environmental planning and delivery is consistent with the requirements of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan. The potential environmental watering outlined in section 4 fulfils Victoria's obligations under section 8.26 of the plan to identify annual environmental watering priorities for
Victoria's water resource areas.