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The Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline Project (WMPP) replaced stock and domestic supply dams with tanks, and the openchannel distribution system with pipelines, to improve water efficiency. A portion of the water savings from the WMPP was converted to an environmental entitlement to improve the condition of the area's flow-stressed rivers, creeks and wetlands; the rest was used to create regional development opportunities and boost the reliability of supply for other users. The WMPP reduced the amount of open-water habitat in areas that were formerly supplied by the openchannel system, so a separate 1,000 ML environmental entitlement was created to water selected wetlands that were previously supplied through the channel system. In 2011, a project identified priority wetlands that could receive water from the new environmental entitlement, and 51 wetlands have been connected to the Wimmera-Mallee pipeline system to receive that water.

Water for the environment can only be delivered to the wetlands when there is sufficient capacity in the Wimmera-Mallee pipeline system, which can be affected by demand from other pipeline customers. The North Central, Mallee and Wimmera CMAs work closely with GWMWater and land managers (including Parks Victoria, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and private landowners) to take account of pipeline capacity constraints when managing environmental deliveries to wetlands.

System map

Wimmera Mallee

Environmental watering objectives in the Wimmera-Mallee wetlands

Frog icon
Maintain and increase the population of frogs and turtles
Plant icon
Maintain and improve the condition of aquatic and fringing plants including lignum, river red gum and black box communities

Improve the diversity of vegetation communities by providing watering regimes to support plant life cycles in and around the wetlands
bird icon
Maintain and increase populations of waterbirds and other native birds by providing resting, feeding and breeding habitat
Insect icon
Maintain the population of waterbugs
Kangaroo icon
Provide watering holes for native animals and terrestrial birds across the landscape

Environmental values

There are a wide range of wetland types in the Wimmera- Mallee wetlands system including freshwater meadows, open freshwater lakes and freshwater marshes. This diversity provides a range of different wetland habitats for plants and animals in the western part of the state. The wetlands also vary in size, consist of many different vegetation communities and are home to native waterbird populations including brolgas, egrets, blue-billed ducks, freckled ducks, Australian painted snipes and glossy ibis. The wetlands are used by the vulnerable growling grass frog, turtles and many other native animals that rely on them as drought refuges and drinking holes. Rare and vulnerable vegetation species (such as spiny lignum, ridged water milfoil, chariot wheel and cane grass) are also present in some wetlands.

Recent conditions

The Wimmera-Mallee received below-average rainfall and had above-average temperatures throughout 2018–19. A large rainfall event in December 2018 caused floods across some of the region and filled some wetlands. The dry conditions experienced over the last two years have meant that there was little to no inflow into storages in the Wimmera-Mallee headworks system, and no allocation was made to the wetland environmental entitlement in 2018–19. Environmental demand for the Wimmera-Mallee wetlands in 2018–19 was met by water for the environment carried over from previous seasons.

Water for the environment was delivered to 44 Wimmera- Mallee wetlands in 2018–19: 25 wetlands in the Mallee CMA area, 12 in the Wimmera CMA area and seven in the North Central CMA area. Deliveries were made in winter/ spring 2018 and autumn/winter 2019 to maintain and improve ecological outcomes from natural or managed flows in previous years. Some wetlands received water once during 2018–19, while others received multiple deliveries to maintain their water-dependent values.

Water for the environment delivered to the Wimmera- Mallee wetlands maintained and improved the health of native plants and provided feeding and breeding habitat for many animals (such as eastern long-necked turtles, frogs, yabbies, egrets, herons, ducks, grebes, swans, stilts and other water and woodland birds). Aquatic and fringing plant communities in wetlands that received water (naturally or through managed deliveries) in 2018–19 have responded well. Black box trees at the edge of some wetlands flowered and set seed, while many wetlands had vigorous growth of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants including nardoo, water milfoil, water ribbons, lignum and cane grass.

Scope of environmental watering

Table 1 shows potential environmental watering actions and their environmental objectives. Watering actions for the Wimmera-Mallee wetlands will typically be in winter/ spring 2018 or autumn/winter 2019, but they may occur at any time of the year depending on environmental need, seasonal conditions and pipeline capacity.

Table 1 Potential environmental watering actions and objectives for the Wimmera–Mallee wetlands

Potential environmental watering

Functional watering objective

Environmental objectives
North Central wetlands
Chirrup Swamp
  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for frogs, waterbirds and turtles

Frog iconKangaroo icon

Corack Lake
  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and nursery habitat for turtles and frogs
  • Maintain varying depths of water to support aquatic and fringing plants' life cycles
  • Maintain varying depths of water to support a variety of feeding habitats for waterbirds
Frog icon Plant iconHeron icon
Creswick Swamp
  • Maintain varying depths of water to support the life cycle of aquatic plants including threatened marbled marshwort
  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for frogs and turtles
  • Maintain water levels to prolong inundation and ensure successful waterbird breeding events, if they start

Frog iconPlant iconHeron icon

Davis Dam
  • Inundate black box and rare cane grass to allow plants to complete their life cycles and to support juvenile plants
  • Provide a semi-permanent water source to support refuge, feeding and breeding opportunities for frogs
  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for waterbirds and terrestrial species

Frog iconPlant iconKangaroo icon

Falla Dam

  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for frogs, waterbirds and terrestrial species
  • Stimulate frog and turtle breeding by providing a deep, permanent water source in spring
  • Stimulate aquatic and fringing vegetation growth in winter/spring

Frog iconPlant iconKangaroo icon

Jeffcott Wildlife Reserve

  • Maintain a minimum depth of water to support the life cycles of aquatic plants
  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for frogs, waterbugs, waterbirds and turtles

Frog iconPlant iconHeron iconInsect icon

Jesse Swamp

  • Maintain varying depths of water to support aquatic and fringing plant life cycles
  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for frogs, waterbirds and terrestrial species

Frog iconPlant iconHeron iconKangaroo icon

Wimmera wetlands

Carapugna

  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for frogs, waterbirds and terrestrial species
  • Stimulate aquatic and fringing vegetation growth and allow plants to complete their life cycles including ridged water milfoil, black box and spiny lignum

Frog iconHeron iconPlant iconKangaroo icon

Challambra Swamp

Crow Swamp

Fieldings Dam

Harcoans Swamp

Mutton Swamp

Opies Dam

Pinedale

Sawpit Swamp

Schultz/Koschitzke

Tarkedia Dam

Wal Wal Swamp

Mallee wetlands

Barbers Swamp

  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for waterbirds and terrestrial species
  • Stimulate aquatic and fringing vegetation growth and allow the plants to complete their life cycles including ridged water milfoil, black box and spiny lignum
  • Maintain water levels to prolong inundation and ensure successful waterbird breeding events if they start
Plant icon Heron icon

Bull Swamp

Cokum Bushland Reserve

Morton Plains Reserve

Tchum Lakes Lake Reserve (North Lake - Wetland)

Tchum Lakes Swimming Pool (North Lake – Dam)

Broom Tank

  • Stimulate aquatic and fringing vegetation growth and allow the plants to complete their life cycles including black box and lignum
  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for waterbirds and terrestrial species

Plant iconKangaroo icon

Poyner

Clinton Shire Dam

Pam Juergens Dam

Greens Wetland

Roselyn Wetland

Considines

Goulds Reserve

  • Stimulate aquatic and fringing vegetation growth and allow the plants to complete their life cycles including black box and lignum

Plant icon

Part of Gap Reserve

Newer Swamp

Towma (Lake Marlbed)

Coundons Wetland

  • Stimulate aquatic and fringing vegetation growth and allow the plants to complete their life cycles including black box and lignum
  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for waterbirds and terrestrial species
  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for frogs and turtles

Plant iconFrog iconKangaroo icon

J Ferrier Wetland

Mahoods Corner

  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for waterbirds and terrestrial species

Heron icon

Shannons Wayside

Chiprick

  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for waterbirds and terrestrial species

Kangaroo icon

D Smith Wetland

Homelea Wetland

John Ampt

Kath Smith Dam

Paul Barclay

R Ferriers Dam

Rickard Glenys Dam

Cronomby Tanks

  • Stimulate aquatic and fringing vegetation growth and allow the plants to complete their life cycles including black box and lignum
  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for frogs and turtles

Frog iconPlant icon

Lake Danaher Bushland Reserve

Engagement

Table 2 shows the partners, stakeholder organisations and individuals with which the Wimmera, Mallee and North Central CMAs engaged when preparing the WimmeraMallee wetlands seasonal watering proposal.

Seasonal watering proposals are informed by longer-term regional catchment management strategies, regional waterway strategies, environmental water management plans and other studies, which incorporate environmental, cultural, social and economic considerations. For further details, refer to the Wimmera, North Central and Mallee regional catchment strategies and waterway strategies.

Table 2 Partners and stakeholders engaged in developing the Wimmera-Mallee wetlands seasonal watering proposal

Partner and stakeholder engagement

  • Berriwillock, Birchip, Culgoa, Hopetoun, Lalbert, Nullawil, Millewa-
    Carwarp, Sea Lake, Ultima, Waitche and Woomelang-Lascelles
    Landcare groups
  • Mid-Murray Field Naturalists Incorporated Association
  • Donald and District and Birchip Landcare groups
  • Individual landholders
  • Birchip Cropping Group
  • GWMWater
  • Parks Victoria
  • Victorian Environmental Water Holder
  • Arthur Rylah Institute
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
  • Green Lake Regional Park
  • Lake Tchum Committee
  • Natimuk and District Field and Game
  • Ouyen Lake Project
  • Wimmera Bushwalking Club
  • Barenji Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
  • Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation

Page last updated: 12/12/19