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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 pipeline. 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 substantially reduced the open water in the formerly channel-supplied areas.

To mitigate the loss of open water in the landscape, a 1,000 ML environmental entitlement was created to supply to wetlands (some with associated dams) that were previously supplied through the old channel system; the entitlement is supplied via the Wimmera–Mallee pipeline system. A project was completed to identify priority wetlands to be connected to the pipeline system, and all 51 wetlands are now connected to the pipeline.

System map

Wimmera Mallee Wetlands

Environmental watering objectives in the Wimmera-Mallee wetlands

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

Environmental values

There is great variation in the character of wetlands in the Wimmera–Mallee system. Though generally much smaller in size than other wetlands that receive environmental water in the northern, central and Gippsland regions, wetlands in the Wimmera–Mallee system provide important habitat, feeding and breeding opportunities for a range of waterbirds and animals in a predominantly dry landscape. Rare and vulnerable plants (such as spiny lignum, ridged water milfoil and cane grass) are also present in some wetlands.

The Wimmera–Mallee wetlands include a wide range of wetland types (such as freshwater meadows, open freshwater lakes and freshwater marshes). This diversity is important to provide a range of different open-water habitats for the plants and animals in the western part of the state. They also vary in size, consist of many different plants and are home to native waterbirds 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.

Social and economic values

These wetlands are highly valued by the community and provide places for recreational activities including canoeing, yabbying, duck and quail hunting and bird watching.

Conditions mid-2016

The Wimmera–Mallee region was very dry in 2015–16 with no allocation made to the wetland environmental entitlement. Despite this, carryover from previous years meant there was still environmental water available in 2015–16.

Deliveries were made to 40 wetlands in 2015–16: 24 wetlands in the Mallee area, seven in the north-central area and nine in the Wimmera area. Water deliveries were made in spring 2015 and autumn 2016, with some wetlands receiving water once and others receiving water twice.

Given the dry conditions, watering was mostly of smaller parts of the wetlands to provide drought refuge in the landscape. There was some delivery of water into the main wetland areas at Cokum Bushland Reserve, Corack Lake and Jesse Swamp in spring 2015. Water was delivered to these wetlands to support plant growth and increase wetland type diversity, providing feeding opportunities for shallow wading birds and breeding habitat for frogs and turtles.

Many different animals (such as brolgas, wedge-tailed eagles, herons, ibis, yabbies, parrots, ducks, turtles, frogs, kangaroos and wallabies) used the Wimmera–Mallee wetlands in 2015–16. Plants (submerged in the wetlands and on the banks) responded well at the wetlands that were watered and is contributing to improvement in the 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

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

Creswick Swamp

  • Support a diversity of aquatic plants including re-established 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

  • Provide conditions that support an abundance of 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

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

  • Promote native aquatic plant growth including re-establishment of marbled marshwort
  • Provide shallow foraging habitat for waterbirds (including brolgas) and feeding opportunities for frogs

Wimmera wetlands

Carapugna

  • Retain water in the wetland to sustain animals (especially frogs and wetland and woodland birds)
  • Sustain 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

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
  • Improve the diversity and quality of wetland vegetation communities

Poyner

Towma (Lake Marlbed)

Clinton Shire Dam

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

Pam Juergens Dam

Goulds Reserve

  • Maintain the health of fringing lignum and black box communities

Greens Wetland (2)

J Ferrier Wetland

Part of Gap Reserve

Roselyn Wetland

Newer Swamp

Mahoods Corner

  • Provide suitable feeding and breeding habitat for various waterbird guilds
  • Improve the diversity and quality of wetland vegetation communities

Shannons Wayside

Chiprick (both)

  • Provide watering points for terrestrial and aerial animals

D Smith Wetland

Homelea Wetland

John Ampt

Kath Smith Dam

Paul Barclay

R Ferriers Dam

Rickard Glenys Dam

Considines

  • Maintain the health of fringing lignum and black box communities
  • Provide watering points for terrestrial and aerial animals
  • Improve the diversity and quality of wetland vegetation communities

Coundons Wetland

  • Maintain the health of fringing lignum and black box communities
  • Maintain habitat opportunities for turtles and frogs
  • Provide watering points for terrestrial and aerial animals

Cronomby Tanks

  • Maintain the health of fringing lignum and black box communities
  • Maintain habitat opportunities for turtles and frogs

Lake Danaher Bushland Reserve

  • Maintain the health of fringing lignum and black box communities
  • Maintain habitat opportunities for turtles and frogs
  • Improve the diversity and quality of wetland vegetation communities

Morton Plains Reserve

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

Scenario planning

Environmental water delivery to the wetlands relies on capacity in the Wimmera–Mallee pipeline system. Catchment management authorities work closely with GWMWater and land managers (including Parks Victoria, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and landowners) to manage around these capacity constraints and deliver environmental water to these wetlands.

The wetlands considered for potential environmental watering in 2016–17 have been determined after assessing their scientific watering requirements and watering history and considering climatic conditions, water availability and the likely capacity in the Wimmera–Mallee pipeline system.

Under drought conditions, the specific wetlands are planned to receive a small volume of water, in many cases topping up water levels from previous environmental watering. As conditions become wetter, the number of sites and extent of watering increases, with some wetland watering also aiming to inundate some of the surrounding plants. As a result, the expected water use increases as resources and conditions improve.

Due to the lower reliability of environmental water in the Wimmera–Mallee wetland system, carrying over water following wetter periods is considered important to assist in managing supply during dry times. A critical carryover volume of 134–218 megalitres (ML) has been identified, depending on the scenario.

Table 2 Potential environmental watering for the Wimmera–Mallee wetlands under a range of planning scenarios

Planning scenario

Drought

Dry

Average

Wet

Expected catchment conditions

  • No rainfall or catchment inflows are likely to contribute to water levels in the wetlands
  • No rainfall or catchment inflows are likely to contribute to water levels in the wetlands
  • Some localised catchment inflows may contribute to water levels in some wetlands
  • Catchment inflows are likely to contribute to water levels in the wetlands

Expected availability of environmental water

  • 623 ML carryover
  • 0 ML allocation
  • 623 ML available
  • 623 ML carryover
  • 0 ML allocation
  • 623 ML available
  • 623 ML carryover
  • 50 ML allocation
  • 673 ML available
  • 623 ML carryover
  • 1,000 ML allocation
  • 1,623 ML available

Potential environmental watering

  • Barbers Swamp
  • Broom Tank
  • Bull Swamp
  • Carapugna
  • Challambra Swamp
  • Chirrup Swamp
  • Chiprick (both)
  • Clinton Shire Dam
  • Cokum Bushland Reserve1
  • Considines1
  • Corack Lake
  • Creswick Swamp
  • Cronomby Tanks
  • Crow Swamp
  • D Smith Wetland
  • Fieldings Dam
  • Greens Wetland (2)
  • Homelea
  • J Ferrier Wetland
  • Jeffcott Wildlife Reserve
  • Jesse Swamp
  • John Ampt
  • Lake Danaher Bushland Reserve
  • Mahoods Corner
  • Morton Plains Reserve
  • Mutton Swamp
  • Opies Dam
  • Part of Gap Reserve
  • Paul Barclay
  • Pinedale
  • Poyner1
  • R Ferriers Dam
  • Rickard Glenys Dam
  • Roselyn Wetland/Reids Dam
  • Newer Swamp
  • Schultz/Koschitzke
  • Shannons Wayside
  • Tarkedia Dam
  • Towma (Lake Marlbed)
  • Wal Wal Swamp
  • Barbers Swamp
  • Broom Tank
  • Bull Swamp
  • Carapugna
  • Challambra Swamp
  • Chirrup Swamp
  • Chiprick (both)
  • Clinton Shire Dam
  • Cokum Bushland Reserve1
  • Considines1
  • Corack Lake
  • Creswick Swamp
  • Cronomby Tanks
  • Crow Swamp
  • D Smith Wetland
  • Davis Dam
  • Falla Dam
  • Fieldings Dam
  • Greens Wetland (2)
  • Homelea
  • J Ferrier Wetland
  • Jeffcott Wildlife Reserve
  • Jesse Swamp
  • John Ampt
  • Kath Smith Dam
  • Lake Danaher Bushland Reserve
  • Mahoods Corner
  • Morton Plains Reserve
  • Mutton Swamp
  • Opies Dam
  • Pam Juergens Dam
  • Part of Gap Reserve
  • Paul Barclay
  • Pinedale
  • Poyner1
  • R Ferriers Dam
  • Rickard Glenys Dam
  • Roselyn Wetland/Reids Dam
  • Newer Swamp
  • Schultz/Koschitzke
  • Shannons Wayside
  • Tarkedia Dam
  • Tchum Lakes Lake Reserve (North Lake - Wetland)
  • Tchum Lakes Swimming Pool (North Lake - Dam)
  • Towma (Lake Marlbed)
  • Wal Wal Swamp
  • Barbers Swamp
  • Broom Tank
  • Bull Swamp
  • Carapugna
  • Challambra Swamp
  • Chirrup Swamp
  • Chiprick (both)
  • Clinton Shire Dam
  • Cokum Bushland Reserve1
  • Considines1
  • Corack Lake
  • Coundons Wetland
  • Creswick Swamp
  • Cronomby Tanks
  • Crow Swamp
  • D Smith Wetland
  • Davis Dam
  • Falla Dam
  • Fieldings Dam
  • Goulds Reserve
  • Greens Wetland (2)
  • Homelea
  • J Ferrier Wetland
  • Jeffcott Wildlife Reserve
  • Jesse Swamp
  • John Ampt
  • Kath Smith Dam
  • Lake Danaher Bushland Reserve
  • Mahoods Corner
  • Morton Plains Reserve
  • Mutton Swamp
  • Opies Dam
  • Pam Juergens Dam
  • Part of Gap Reserve
  • Paul Barclay
  • Pinedale
  • Poyner1
  • R Ferriers Dam
  • Rickard Glenys Dam
  • Roselyn Wetland/Reids Dam
  • Newer Swamp
  • Sawpit Swamp
  • Schultz/Koschitzke
  • Shannons Wayside
  • Tarkedia Dam
  • Tchum Lakes Lake Reserve (North Lake - Wetland)
  • Tchum Lakes Swimming Pool (North Lake - Dam)
  • Towma (Lake Marlbed)
  • Wal Wal Swamp
  • Barbers Swamp
  • Broom Tank
  • Bull Swamp
  • Carapugna
  • Challambra Swamp
  • Chirrup Swamp
  • Chiprick (both)
  • Clinton Shire Dam
  • Cokum Bushland Reserve1
  • Considines1
  • Corack Lake
  • Coundons Wetland
  • Creswick Swamp
  • Cronomby Tanks
  • Crow Swamp
  • D Smith Wetland
  • Davis Dam
  • Falla Dam
  • Fieldings Dam
  • Goulds Reserve
  • Greens Wetland (2)
  • Harcoans
  • Homelea
  • J Ferrier Wetland
  • Jeffcott Wildlife Reserve
  • Jesse Swamp
  • John Ampt
  • Kath Smith Dam
  • Krong Swamp
  • Lake Danaher Bushland Reserve
  • Mahoods Corner
  • Morton Plains Reserve
  • Mutton Swamp
  • Opies Dam
  • Pam Juergens Dam
  • Part of Gap Reserve
  • Paul Barclay
  • Pinedale
  • Poyner1
  • R Ferriers Dam
  • Rickard Glenys Dam
  • Roselyn Wetland/Reids Dam
  • Newer Swamp
  • Sawpit Swamp
  • Schultz/Koschitzke
  • Shannons Wayside
  • Tarkedia Dam
  • Tchum Lakes Lake Reserve (North Lake - Wetland)
  • Tchum Lakes Swimming Pool (North Lake - Dam)
  • Towma (Lake Marlbed)
  • Wal Wal Swamp

Possible volume of environmental water required to achieve objectives

  • 137 ML
  • 293 ML
  • 656 ML
  • 861 ML

Priority carryover requirements

  • 134 ML
  • 141 ML
  • 141 ML
  • 218 ML

1 Water supplied to these wetlands in supply system 5 is made available from GWMWater allocations.

Risk management

In preparing its seasonal watering proposal, the Wimmera, Mallee and North Central Catchment Management Authorities considered and assessed risks and identified mitigating strategies relating to implementing 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.

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.