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The Boort wetlands are on the floodplain west of the Loddon River, below Loddon Weir. They consist of temporary and permanent freshwater lakes and swamps: Lake Boort, Lake Leaghur, Lake Yando, Little Lake Meran and Lake Meran. Together, the Boort wetlands cover over 800 ha. There are numerous other wetlands in the district, but they are currently not managed with water for the environment.

The natural watering regimes of wetlands throughout the broader Loddon system have been substantially modified by the construction of levees and channels across the floodplain and by the construction and operation of reservoirs and weirs along the Loddon River. Water is delivered to the Boort wetlands through Loddon Valley Irrigation Area infrastructure.

The availability of water for the environment for the Boort wetlands is closely linked to water available for the Loddon River system. The ability to deliver water for the environment to the wetlands is sometimes limited by channel capacity constraints. The VEWH and North Central CMA work with the storage manager (Goulburn-Murray Water) to best meet environmental objectives within capacity constraints.

Traditional Owners
Storage manager
Environmental water holder

Environmental watering objectives in the Boort wetlands

icon-objectives-fish
Increase the population of large and small- bodied fish species
Frog icon
Increase the diversity and population of native frogs including by enhancing breeding opportunities
Maintain the population of freshwater turtles, in particular Murray River turtles
Plant icon
Rehabilitate and increase the extent of emergent and aquatic vegetation (aquatic herblands, tall marsh), intermittent swampy woodland and riverine chenopod woodland

Maintain the health and restore the distribution of river red gums and associated understorey species

Maintain the extent and restore the health of black box vegetation
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Support a high diversity of wetland birds by enhancing feeding and breeding conditions

Environmental values

The Boort wetlands provide habitat for a range of plant and animal species. At Lake Yando, 12 rare plant species have been recorded including the jerry-jerry and water nymph. Bird species recorded at Lake Boort, Lake Leaghur and Lake Meran include the white-bellied sea eagle, Latham’s snipe and eastern great egret. Little Lake Meran is a swampy woodland with black box trees on the highest wet margins and river red gums fringing the waterline.

Traditional Owner cultural values and uses

In planning for environmental flows in the Boort wetlands, North Central CMA has worked with Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba Traditional Owners and Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation to identify opportunities to engage on environmental water planning and delivery now and in future.

The wetlands and surrounding land in the Boort region are rich in cultural heritage, with sites and artefacts of cultural practices present throughout the landscape. The rivers and floodplains are valued as food and fibre sources and contain many sites of significance such as camp sites and meeting places. Environmental watering supports values such as native fish, waterbirds and turtles, and promotes the growth of culturally-important plants that provide food, medicine and weaving materials. The presence of water itself can be a cultural value, as well as the quality of the water, as healthy water promotes a healthy Country.

A key priority for Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba Traditional Owners in the Boort and central Murray region wetlands is maintaining or improving the condition of wetland vegetation health. North Central CMA and Barapa Barapa Traditional Owners are collaborating to deliver the DELWP-funded Decision Support Tool (DST) project which focuses on McDonalds Swamp (central Murray wetlands), Lake Leaghur and Lake Yando. The project involves the delivery of revegetation works and vegetation monitoring. Environmental watering decisions at these wetlands have been able to support the DST project by aligning watering actions with the watering requirements of the revegetation and enabling monitoring to be completed by Barapa Barapa.

The Dja Dja Wurrung Country Plan describes their aspirations around the management of rivers and waterways and articulates Dja Dja Wurrung peoples’ support for the reinstatement of environmental flows as an overall objective for the management of water on Country. The North Central CMA and Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation continue to work towards increased engagement on planning and delivery of environmental watering activities, including identifying opportunities for Dja Dja Wurrung involvement.

Social, recreational and economic values and uses

In planning the potential watering actions in Table 1, North Central CMA considered how environmental flows could support values and uses including:

  • water-based recreation (such as canoeing, fishing and kayaking)
  • riverside recreation and amenity (such as birdwatching, camping, duck hunting and walking)
  • community events and tourism (such as supporting Aboriginal cultural heritage and history-based tours)
  • socio-economic benefits (such as ecosystem services like groundwater recharge, flood mitigation, nutrient treatment and carbon storage).

Recent conditions

Rainfall across the Boort wetlands during 2019–20 was close to the long-term average, but there were no floods
in the Loddon River catchment and therefore no significant inflows to the wetlands. The Boort wetlands last flooded in 2016, and since then water for the environment has been delivered to Lake Meran and Little Lake Meran, which, at the end of 2019–20, both continued to hold water. Lake Yando and Lake Leaghur are completely dry and are due for filling under their recommended watering regimes. Lake Boort is also dry and is preferred to remain dry in 2020–21 to maintain its optimal regime.

Water for the environment was used to top up water levels in Lake Meran between spring 2019 and autumn 2020
as recommended in the Lake Meran Environmental Water Management Plan, to maintain habitat for aquatic animals and promote the growth of fringing vegetation. A planned partial fill at Lake Yando did not proceed in 2019–20, due to delivery constraints and channel blockage when the water was needed. Consequently, a fill of Lake Yando will be a high priority in 2020–21, which will require the channel to be cleared before filling.

Scope of environmental watering

Table 1 Potential environmental watering actions and objectives for the Boort wetlands

Potential environmental watering action

Functional watering objective

Environmental objective

Lake Meran (top-ups as required to maintain water level between 77.30 and 77.80m AHD)

  • Increase the water depth to maintain an appropriate water temperature for aquatic animals and provide a refuge for freshwater turtles, waterbirds and fish
  • Provide dry areas (above 77.8 m AHD) to promote the growth and increase the extent of herbland vegetation around the wetland fringe
  • Top-ups will most likely be required in late winter, spring and autumn, but may be delivered year-round to maintain minimum water depth requirements for aquatic animals
Fish iconTurtle iconPlant iconHeron icon

Lake Meran (fill, if required in response to natural flooding)

  • Provide moisture to maintain mature trees in the intermittent swampy woodland on the wetland fringe
  • Provide deep, open water to support the feeding of deep-water foraging waterbirds and support breeding of colonial nesting birds
Plant iconHeron icon

Lake Yando (fill in late winter/spring)

  • Wet the wetland fringe to promote the germination and recruitment of river red gums and maintain the existing mature trees
  • Support the growth of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants
  • Provide habitat and food resources for aquatic animals
  • Grow zooplankton and waterbug communities to provide food for waterbirds and frogs
Frog iconPlant iconHeron icon

Lake Leaghur (fill in winter/ spring)

  • Wet the wetland fringe to promote the germination and recruitment of fringing vegetation (such as river red gums and cane grass)
  • Support the growth of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants
  • Provide habitat and food resources for aquatic animals
  • Grow zooplankton and waterbug communities to provide food for waterbirds and frogs
Frog iconPlant iconHeron icon

Lake Yando and Lake Leaghur (top-ups as required, if significant waterbird breeding occurs)

  • Maintain shallow-water habitat under tree canopies to ensure adequate food resources for nesting waterbirds and their chicks
  • Top-ups will most likely be required over late spring/summer but may be delivered at other times if required
Heron icon

Engagement

Table 2 shows the partners and stakeholder organisations with which North Central CMA engaged when preparing their seasonal watering proposals.

Seasonal watering proposals are informed by longer-term regional catchment strategies, regional waterway strategies, environmental flow studies, water management plans and other studies. These incorporate a range of environmental, cultural, social and economic perspectives and longerterm integrated catchment and waterway management objectives. For further details, refer to the North Central Regional Catchment Strategy and North Central  Waterway Strategy.

Table 2 Partners and stakeholders engaged in developing the Boort wetlands seasonal watering proposal

Partner and stakeholder engagement
  • Birdlife Australia
  • BirdLife Australia
  • Common- wealth Environmental Water Office
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
  • Goulburn- Murray Water
  • Parks Victoria
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (land manager)
  • Gannawarra Shire Council
  • Campaspe Shire Council
  • Swan Hill Rural City Council
  • Loddon Shire Council
  • Individual landholders and community members
  • Field and Game Australia
  • Gateway to Gannawarra Visitor centre
  • Arthur Rylah Institute (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning)
  • Contracted ecologists
  • Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation
  • Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation
  • Barapa Barapa Traditional Owners
  • Wemba Wemba Traditional Owners

Page last updated: 24/07/20