In western Victoria in 2021-22, water storages remained low again in spite of recurrent La Niña events elsewhere. Storage inflows over the previous four years were comparable to the worst of the Millennium Drought.
The continuing dry conditions in western Victoria highlighted how water for the environment can help sustain environmental, social and economic benefits for the Glenelg and Wimmera regions.
By providing minimum flows at critical times, catchment management authority (CMA) partners and the VEWH helped maintain water quality for fish, platypus and aquatic plants in both systems. This in turn has provided significant social and economic benefit for communities that live in the Glenelg and Wimmera catchments, including providing habitat for fish populations and the highly-popular fishing events in the region and other social activities.
In the Glenelg River, as part of a long-term catchment management plan by the Glenelg Hopkins CMA, deliveries of water for the environment over the last 10 years have supported good recruitment and survival of River Blackfish and the survival of adult Estuary Perch and Tupong. These outcomes are monitored by the Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) as part of the Victorian Environmental Flows and Assessment Program (VEFMAP).
A Wimmera fish tale
This season water for the environment delivered to the Wimmera River supplemented natural flows to maintain water levels and support water quality in the Horsham, Dimboola and Jeparit weir pools, in turn supporting fish health.
Image: Wimmera River, by Wimmera CMA and Just My Luck Fishing
Good fish stocks are important if the Wimmera region is going to continue to attract visitors to premier fishing events. Economic studies have reported that the Wimmera region benefits economically from a healthy Wimmera River.
Over $800,000 is generated in economic activity by the Horsham and Jeparit fishing contests and the Dimboola barefoot water-ski tournament, which involve over 4,500 people. These benefits are underpinned by water for the environment and a healthy Wimmera River1.
The value of a healthy Wimmera River is being celebrated by a growing number of keen anglers sharing their recognition of the work that’s put into the system including environmental watering to complement natural flows and support fish populations.
For example, Nathan Keonig and his son Bryce share their love of the region’s top fishing spots on the Just My Luck Fishing YouTube channel, and acknowledge the benefits of water for the environment.
Image: Bryce with his catch on Wimmera River, Wimmera CMA and Just My Luck Fishing
“The environmental flows for the Wimmera River are important for each and every community along its banks. Fresh water and flowing rivers help the native fish spawn to ensure great fishing for years to come. Fishing in the Wimmera River draws people to the region and in turn creates more tourism dollars for our local businesses. A healthy river helps drive healthy tourism.” - Nathan Keonig
The continued support that water for the environment has provided regionally through promoting fish populations and managing to assist water quality needs has played a strong part to ensure western Victoria’s local communities can continue to host economy-boosting events even in drier times.
 The annual report commissioned by the Wimmera Development Association “Economic Value: Selected Wimmera River Events for 2022”, reviewed the 2021-2022 Horsham and Jeparit fishing contests and the Dimboola barefoot water-ski tournament, and found there was over $800,000 generated in economic activity and involved over 4,500 people.