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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 the 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

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 and, in particular, of 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 on the fringes of the wetlands
bird icon
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 higher wet margins and river red gums fringing the waterline.

Traditional Owner cultural values and uses

In planning for environmental flows in the Boort wetlands, the North Central CMA works with Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba Traditional Owners and the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (trading as Djaara). Lake Boort at Boort is in the Dja Dja Wurrung Registered Aboriginal Party boundary. Boort wetlands to the north of Lake Boort are recognised as Barapa Barapa Country.

In late 2022 and early 2023, Barapa Barapa and Wamba Wemba Traditional Owners met with the North Central CMA to reflect on environmental watering in the Boort wetlands in 2022-23 and to discuss aspirations for 2023-24. At the time, most of the Boort wetlands were full, so the discussion centred on the positive and negative impacts of the flooding. Participants supported the proposal to top up Little Lake Meran in 2023-24 while allowing the other wetlands to draw down. As indicated in previous years, they expressed an interest in doing revegetation work at the Boort wetlands and in undertaking Aboriginal Waterways Assessments at the Boort wetlands in both wet and dry phases.

Increasing the involvement of Traditional Owners in environmental water management and progressing opportunities towards self-determination in the environmental watering program is a core commitment of the VEWH and its agency partners. This is reinforced by a range of legislation and policy commitments, including the Water Act 1989, the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework, the 2016 Water for Victoria, the Water is Life: Traditional Owner Access to Water Roadmap 2022, and in some cases, agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010.

Where Traditional Owners are more deeply involved in the planning and/or delivery of environmental flows for a particular site, their contribution is acknowledged in Table 5.7.3 with an icon. The use of this icon is not intended to indicate that these activities are meeting all the needs of Traditional Owners, but is incorporated in the spirit of valuing that contribution.

Traditional owners

Watering planned and/or delivered in partnership with Traditional Owners to support cultural values and uses

In 2022, Djaara joined the newly established Lake Boort Operational Advisory Group, which shares technical and operational information to support environmental water management and decision-making at Lake Boort. This is the first example of Traditional Owner membership of a North Central CMA Operational Advisory Group and the first time Djaara has had an operational role in environmental watering.

The North Central CMA will work with Djaara and the Yung Balug clan in 2023-24 regarding the management of water at Lake Boort, including a possible top-up. The natural drawdown of water from Lake Boort after the 2022 floods will be monitored, and throughout the year, there will be a focus on ensuring that current communities of culturally significant plants are maintained and enhanced if possible.

Social, recreational and economic values and uses

In planning the potential environmental flows in Table 5.7.3, the North Central CMA considered how environmental flows could support values and uses, including:

  • water-based recreation (such as fishing and water sports)
  • waterway recreation and amenity (such as birdwatching, camping and duck hunting)
  • community events and tourism (such as attracting locals and visitors for birdwatching and hunting)
  • socioeconomic benefits (such as aesthetic benefits for landholders, groundwater recharge and appropriate water levels and quality for flood mitigation, nutrient treatment and carbon storage).

Scope of environmental watering

The term ‘environmental watering’ refers to the active delivery of held environmental water to support particular environmental objectives by altering the flow in a river or the water level in a wetland. While other terms are sometimes used to describe the delivery of environmental water, ‘environmental watering’ is deliberately used here and in seasonal watering statements to ensure consistency in the legal instruments that authorise the use of water for the environment in Victoria.

Table 5.7.3 describes the potential environmental watering actions in 2023-24, their expected watering effect (that is, the intended physical or biological effects of the watering action) and the longer-term environmental objectives they support. Each environmental objective relies on one or more potential environmental watering actions and their associated physical or biological effects.

Table 5.7.3 Potential environmental watering actions, expected watering effects and associated environmental objectives for the Boort wetlands

Potential environmental watering action

Expected watering effects

Environmental objective

Lake Boort (top-up in autumn/winter 2024 as required)

Traditional owners
  • Maintain the water depth around the wetland fringe (the target water level is 89.5-90 m AHD) to promote the germination and recruitment of fringing vegetation, including culturally significant species (such as spiny flat sedge)
  • Support the growth of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants within the wetland
  • Grow zooplankton and waterbug communities to provide food for waterbirds and frogs
Frog iconPlant iconHeron icon

Little Lake Meran (top-up any time as required)

  • Wet the wetland fringe to promote the growth and recruitment of river red gums and maintain existing mature trees
  • Support the growth of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants
  • Grow zooplankton and waterbug communities to provide food for waterbirds and frogs
  • Support waterbird breeding by providing habitat and food resources and maintaining an adequate water depth under nests for juveniles to fledge
Frog iconPlant iconHeron icon

Page last updated: 01/12/22