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Of some 2,000 natural wetlands in the Goulburn Broken area, only three in the Broken catchment have infrastructure that allow them to receive environmental water: Black Swamp, Kinnairds Wetland and Moodie Swamp. Kinnairds Wetland and Black Swamp are red gum swamps near Numurkah. Moodie Swamp is a cane grass wetland adjacent to upper Broken Creek at Waggarandall that provides excellent breeding habitat for brolga.

The water regimes of these wetlands are influenced by their position in the landscape. The development and operation of the Shepparton and Murray Valley irrigation districts have changed the natural flow paths and the timing, frequency, volume and duration of natural flooding to these and other wetlands in the region. Existing irrigation system infrastructure enables water for the environment to be delivered to the three nominated wetlands, but under existing agreements, irrigation deliveries have priority within the channel system. This limits the volume of water that can be delivered to the wetlands.

Traditional Owners
Storage manager
Environmental water holder

System map

Environmental watering objectives in the Broken wetlands

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Increase and improve the growth of native wetland plant species consistent with the ecological vegetation class1 benchmarks

Reduce the cover and diversity of exotic plant species

Maintain populations of rigid water milfoil and slender water milfoil
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Provide breeding habitat for waterbirds

Provide feeding and roosting habitat for waterbirds

Environmental values

Moodie Swamp, Kinnairds Wetland and Black Swamp support a high diversity of vegetation communities ranging from river red gum to cane grass dominated. The wetlands contain state and nationally threatened vegetation communities and species including ridged water milfoil and river swamp wallaby-grass. The wetlands also provide food resources and breeding habitat for bird species of high conservation significance (such as eastern great egret, Latham’s snipe, white-bellied sea eagle, Australasian bittern, brolga, royal spoonbill, yellow-billed spoonbill, Australasian shoveler and glossy ibis). Many of these species are listed in international agreements and conventions.

Traditional Owner cultural values and uses

Goulburn Broken CMA consulted with the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation during the planning of environmental water deliveries in the Broken wetlands. Yorta Yorta confirmed support for the environmental watering actions proposed and will continue to collaborate with Goulburn Broken CMA to identify opportunities for environmental water management to support Yorta Yorta cultural values.

Social, recreational and economic values and uses

In planning the potential watering actions in Table 1, Goulburn Broken CMA considered how environmental flows could support values and uses including riverside recreation and amenity (such as walking, photography and birdwatching).

Recent conditions

The Broken River catchment continued to experience dry conditions in 2019–20 on the back of two previous dry years, receiving below-average rainfall and experiencing above-average temperatures, particularly in spring/summer. Water availability in the Broken system for Moodie Swamp was very low, with high-reliability allocations only reaching two percent. Supply was better in the Murray system, enabling planned deliveries to Black Swamp and Kinnairds Wetland – which are supplied from the Murray system via the Murray valley irrigation area — to occur.

All Broken wetlands remained dry through winter, spring and summer. Environmental water was delivered to fill both Black Swamp and Kinnairds Wetland in autumn 2020, to provide feeding and breeding habitat for a variety of waterbirds and frogs and to stimulate the growth of wetland vegetation including the listed river swamp wallaby grass at Black Swamp and rigid and slender water milfoil at Kinnairds Wetland.

A planned delivery to Moodie Swamp in autumn 2020 was postponed due to the lack of supply and the preference to maintain flow and water quality in upper Broken Creek. Moodie Swamp did however receive some natural catchment runoff as a result of above-average rainfall in April/early May 2020 that provided minimal wetting of the fringing vegetation.

The postponement of the Moodie Swamp watering event in 2019–20 will extend the drying phase for this wetland to 31 months as of autumn 2021: the recommended drying phase is 6–9 months. Therefore, watering Moodie Swamp becomes more critical in 2020–21, to maintain threatened aquatic vegetation.

Scope of environmental planning

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

Potential environmental watering action

Functional watering objective

Environmental objectives

Moodie Swamp (top up in spring as required, fill in autumn)

  • Promote cane grass growth
  • Promote germination and growth of rigid water milfoil
  • Provide habitat for brolga nesting
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Table 2 shows the partners and stakeholder organisations with which the Goulburn Broken CMA engaged when preparing the Broken system seasonal watering proposal.

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

Table 2 Partners and stakeholders engaged in developing the Broken system seasonal watering proposal

Partner and stakeholder engagement
  • BirdLife Australia – Murray Goulburn
  • Goulburn Murray Landcare Network
  • Kinnairds Wetland Advisory Committee
  • Turtles Australia
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Land Manger, Environmental Water)
  • Goulburn- Murray Water (River Operations Planning, Diversions)
  • Greater Shepparton City Council
  • Moira Shire Council
  • Parks Victoria
  • Landholders
  • Trellys Fishing and Hunting
  • Field and Game
  • Goulburn Broken Wetlands Technical Reference Group (Waters Edge Consulting, Rakali Consulting, staff of Arthur Rylah Institute, from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning)
  • Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation
  • Taungurung Land & Waters Council

Page last updated: 22/01/21