Lake Glenmaggie is the major water harvesting storage regulating the Macalister River. Maffra Weir is a small diversion weir located further downstream in Maffra.
Before the construction of Lake Glenmaggie, the Macalister River would regularly receive high and medium flows in winter and spring. Although Lake Glenmaggie regularly spills, high flows are less frequent than natural because the storage captures much of the water. A notable impact of irrigation and water harvesting is reversed seasonality of the flow between Lake Glenmaggie and Maffra Weir. Summer flows through this reach are much greater than natural due to the delivery of irrigation water. Winter flows in this reach are lower than natural because a large proportion of the inflows are captured and there are no irrigation demands over winter. Most irrigation water is diverted at Maffra Weir, and flow downstream of the weir is lower than natural year-round. The changed hydrology restricts fish migration, limits the growth and recruitment of in-stream and streamside plants and reduces the quality of in-stream habitat.
Water for the environment is stored in Lake Glenmaggie and released to the Macalister River. The river is divided into two reaches for the purposes of managing environmental flows: Lake Glenmaggie to Maffra Weir (reach 1) and Maffra Weir to the Thomson River (reach 2).
Maffra Weir is a major barrier to fish movement along the river, so delivery of water for the environment for migratory fish objectives mainly focuses on reach 2. All other objectives apply to both reaches 1 and 2. Construction of a new fish ladder on Maffra Weir to improve fish passage is scheduled to commence in 2024-25, and it is not expected to affect deliveries of water for the environment in 2023-24.