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The Wimmera-Mallee wetlands include 51 wetlands on public and private land spread across the dry north-west area of Victoria.

Historically, the wetlands received water from the open channel system before the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline was completed. As part of the pipeline project, all stock and domestic supply dams were replaced with tanks and the open channel distribution system was replaced by pipelines. The project achieved significant water savings for environmental watering of the area's flow-stressed rivers, creeks and waterways and created regional development opportunities; but it also reduced the amount of openwater habitat in areas that were formerly supplied by the open channel system. To mitigate the loss of open water in the landscape, a 1,000 ML environmental entitlement was created to supply water to wetlands (some with associated dams) that were previously supplied through the old channel system. The entitlement is supplied via the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline. A project was completed in 2011 to identify priority wetlands to be connected to the pipeline system, and all 51 wetlands are now connected. 

Environmental water delivery to the wetlands relies on capacity in the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline. CMAs work closely with GWMWater and land managers (including Parks Victoria, DELWP and private landowners) to manage around these capacity constraints and deliver environmental water to these wetlands.

System map

Environmental watering objectives in the Wimmera-Mallee wetlands

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Create shallow and deep wetlands to provide habitat for a wide range of waterbirds
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Provide habitat and food for frogs and turtles
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Provide watering holes for native animals across the landscape
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Strengthen and maintain plant life in and around the wetlands, including to provide shade, shelter and food for native animals

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 is important to provide a range of different wetland habitats for the plants and animals in the western part of the state. They 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 provide a valuable source of water for other native animals including the vulnerable growling grass frog, turtles and many other species that rely on these wetlands as drought refuges and drinking holes. Rare and vulnerable vegetation species (such as spiny lignum, ridged water milfoil and cane grass) are also present in some wetlands.

Social, cultural and economic values

The Wimmera-Mallee wetlands are highly valued by the community and provide places for recreational activities including canoeing, yabbying, duck and quail hunting and bird watching. The Wimmera-Mallee wetlands have been and continue to be places of significance for the Aboriginal Victorians in the region including the Wamba Wamba people and those represented by the Barengi Gadjin Land Council and the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. Some of the sites have artefacts and scar trees recorded in or adjacent to them.

Conditions mid-2017

The Wimmera-Mallee received well above-average rainfall in winter 2016–17 and many of the wetlands naturally filled. The environmental entitlement also received full allocations for the first time in four years. 

Environmental water was delivered to 31 Wimmera-Mallee wetlands in 2016–17: 21 wetlands in the Mallee area, three in the north-central area and seven in the Wimmera area. Deliveries were made in spring 2016 and autumn 2017, with some wetlands receiving water once and others receiving water twice.

Many different animals (such as lace monitors, kangaroos, wallabies, turtles, carpet pythons, ducks, grebes, stilts and other waterbirds, frogs, yabbies and eastern long-necked turtles) used the Wimmera-Mallee wetlands in 2016–17. Vegetation (both submerged in the wetlands and on the banks, including nardoo, water milfoil and water ribbons) has responded well at the wetlands that were watered or naturally filled and is contributing to the improved environmental conditions at these wetlands.

Scope of environmental watering

Potential environmental watering actions and their environmental objectives are shown in Table 1. The watering actions for these wetlands will typically be in spring or autumn, however may occur at any time of the year depending on environmental need and seasonal conditions.

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

Potential environmental watering

Environmental objectives

North Central wetlands

Davis Dam

  • Maintain black box and cane grass vegetation
  • Provide drought refuge and a watering point for terrestrial animals

Creswick Swamp

  • Maintain the range of aquatic plants and re-establish marbled marshwort
  • Provide refuge, feeding and breeding opportunities for frog and turtles

Chirrup Dam

  • Provide drought refuge and a watering point for animals (particularly frogs and turtles) to facilitate recolonisation of Chirrup Swamp when it is naturally inundated

 

Corack Lake

  • Maintain aquatic plants
  • Provide refuge and nursery habitat for turtles and frogs
  • Provide variety of feeding conditions for waterbirds (such as drawdown zones and shallows)

Falla Dam

  • Maintain as a drought refuge for turtles and frogs and a watering point for terrestrial species

Jeffcott Wildlife Reserve

  • Maintain the diversity of aquatic plants
  • Provide refuge and breeding conditions for water-dependent species (such as frogs, waterbugs, turtles and waterbirds)

Jesse Swamp

  • Maintain native aquatic plants and re-establish marbled marshwort
  • Provide shallow foraging habitat for waterbirds (including brolgas) and feeding opportunities for frogs

Wimmera wetlands

Carapugna

  • Maintain regional populations of native animals especially frogs and wetland and woodland birds
  • Maintain and where possible increase the abundance of wetland plants, especially threatened species

Challambra Swamp

Crow Swamp

Fieldings Dam

Krong Swamp

Mutton Swamp

Pinedale

Sawpit Swamp

Schultz/Koschitzke

Tarkedia

Wal Wal Swamp

Harcoans Swamp

Opies Dam

Mallee wetlands

Barbers Swamp

  • Maintain the health of fringing lignum and black box communities
  • Provide suitable feeding and breeding habitat for various waterbird guilds

Bull Swamp

Cokum Bushland Reserve

Morton Plains Reserve

Tchum Lakes Lake Reserve (North Lake - Wetland)

Tchum Lakes Swimming Pool (North Lake – Dam)

Broom Tank

  • Maintain the health of fringing lignum and black box communities
  • Provide watering points for terrestrial animals and woodland birds

Poyner

Clinton Shire Dam

Pam Juergens Dam

Greens Wetland

Roselyn Wetland

Considines

Goulds Reserve

  • Maintain the health of fringing lignum and black box communities

Part of Gap Reserve

Newer Swamp

Towma (Lake Marlbed)

Coundons Wetland

  • Maintain the health of fringing lignum and black box communities
  • Provide watering points for terrestrial animals and woodland birds
  • Provide foraging, refuge and breeding habitat for turtles and frogs

J Ferrier Wetland

Mahoods Corner

  • Provide suitable feeding and breeding habitat for various waterbird guilds

Shannons Wayside

Chiprick (both)

  • Provide watering points for terrestrial animals and woodland birds

D Smith Wetland

Homelea Wetland

John Ampt

Kath Smith Dam

Paul Barclay

R Ferriers Dam

Rickard Glenys Dam

Cronomby Tanks

  • Maintain the health of fringing lignum and black box communities
  • Provide foraging, refuge and breeding habitat for turtles and frogs

Lake Danaher Bushland Reserve

Risk management

In preparing its seasonal watering proposal, the Wimmera, Mallee and North Central CMAs 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.

The Wimmera-Mallee wetlands are managed by the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority, the Mallee Catchment Management Authority and the North Central Catchment Management Authority.

Who is engaged and how

The Wimmera Catchment Management Authority, the Mallee Catchment Management Authority and the North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) develop their Wimmera-Mallee wetlands seasonal watering proposals in consultation with Goulburn-Murray Water, Parks Victoria and each other. They also work with the following partners and stakeholders.

Landholders/farmers

Regional landholders with wetlands on their properties are involved in each CMA's seasonal watering proposals.

Traditional Owners

The Mallee and North Central CMA engage with the Barenji Gadjin Land Council. The Mallee CMA also has an advisory committee (Mallee CMA Aboriginal Reference Group ) comprising Aboriginal representatives from across the region.

General public

The Mallee CMA engages with its land and water advisory committees comprising community members from across the region.

The North Central CMA consults with the Wimmera-Mallee Wetlands Environmental Water Advisory Group comprising community members; interest groups; North Central CMA Community Consultative Committee representatives; a CMA board member and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Mallee and North Central CMAs also engage with local Landcare groups.