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The flow below Lake Eppalock is largely influenced by releases from storage and the operation of the Campaspe Weir and the Campaspe Siphon. The Campaspe’s major tributary (the Coliban River) flows through the three Coliban Water storages (the Upper Coliban, Lauriston and Malmsbury reservoirs) before reaching Lake Eppalock. Water for the environment is held and released from Lake Eppalock, with some limited ability to regulate flow further downstream at the Campaspe Weir.

Water for the environment is released from Lake Eppalock to support aquatic plants and animals in and along the river. It can be supplemented by water for the environment delivered via the Waranga Western Channel at the Campaspe Siphon, which provides important flexibility to meeting reach 4 demands. Water for the environment is primarily used to improve the magnitude and variability of flows during the winter/spring. Primary flow measurement points are at Barnadown (reach 2) and below the Campaspe Siphon (reach 4).

Goulburn-Murray Water transfers operational water from Lake Eppalock or through Waranga Western Channel to customers in the Murray River and to downstream storages (such as Lake Victoria). These IVTs usually occur in summer/autumn and, depending on the rate of delivery, can either support or compromise environmental watering objectives. High IVT flows delivered at a time when the Campaspe River would naturally have a low flow may reduce the amount of suitable habitat for juvenile fish, which rely on protected, shallow areas of water near the edge

of the river channel. Sustained high IVT flows in summer can also drown streamside vegetation. Storage managers and the CMA have been working cooperatively to enhance the positive effects and limit the negative effects of IVTs on native plants and animals in the Campaspe River. For example, IVTs are sometimes delivered in a pattern that meets summer low flow and fresh requirements, thereby reducing demand on the environmental entitlement. IVTs have also been released in a pattern to support native fish migration from the Murray River into reach 4 of the Campaspe River, without affecting delivery to downstream users.

Traditional Owners
Environmental water holder

System map

Campaspe System
Grey river reaches have been included for context. The numbered reaches indicate where relevant environmental flow studies have been undertaken. Coloured reaches can receive environmental water.

Environmental watering objectives in the Campaspe River

Fish icon
Provide habitat to help protect and increase populations of native fish

Facilitate recolonisation by native fish species that have been presumed lost
Platypus icon
Maintain the resident platypus population by providing places to rest, breed and feed, as well as opportunities for juveniles to disperse
Plant icon
Maintain adult river red gums and provide opportunities for successful recruitment

Maintain the extent and increase the diversity of streamside vegetation

Increase the extent of in-stream aquatic plants
Insect icon
Maintain adult river red gums and provide opportunities for successful recruitment

Maintain the extent and increase the diversity of streamside vegetation

Increase the extent of in-stream aquatic plants
Water icon
Maintain water quality in deep pools and prevent stratification in summer

Reduce the risk of hypoxic blackwater events in summer

Environmental values

The Campaspe River below Lake Eppalock provides important habitat for several native fish species including Murray cod, silver perch, golden perch, Murray-Darling rainbowfish and flat-headed gudgeon. Murray-Darling rainbowfish were presumed lost from the system during the Millennium drought, but since 2011, they have been recorded at many sites on the Campaspe River and are now abundant below Elmore. Environmental flows help native fish migrate and disperse throughout the Campaspe system.  Platypus, rakali (water rats), turtles and frogs are also present along the length of the Campaspe River. The streamside vegetation zone is narrow and dominated by large, mature river red gum trees that support wildlife (such as the swift parrot and squirrel glider).

Traditional Owner cultural values and uses

In planning for environmental flows in the Campaspe River, North Central CMA has worked with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Taungurung Land and Waters Council and Yorta Yorta Nations Aboriginal Corporation to consider:

  • valuable ways in collaboratively working together to understand how environmental values and cultural values align
  • Taungurung’s Baan Ganalina Advisory Group’s and Dja Dja Wurrung’s Kapa Gatjin Advisory Group’s recently completed Aboriginal Water Assessment.

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, kayaking and fishing)
  • riverside recreation and amenity (such as birdwatching, camping, cycling, duck hunting, picnicking and walking)
  • community events and tourism (such as regional visitation)
  • socio-economic benefits (such as diverters for irrigation, domestic and stock uses, and wellbeing).

If the timing or management of planned environmental flows may be modified to align with a community benefit, this is acknowledged in Table 1 with an icon.

Camping icons

Watering planned to support peaks in visitation (e.g. camping or other public activities on long weekends or school holidays)

There are many places along the Campaspe where visitors can camp. Aysons Reserve is a very popular camping site near Elmore, and it draws hundreds of campers during the summer school holiday period. Where possible, delivery of summer freshes will be timed to improve river conditions for campers and for water-related activities during peak visitation periods (such as the January long weekend).

Recent conditions

The Campaspe River catchment had below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures throughout most of 2019–20. January 2020 was the only month to record above-average rainfall. The 2019–20 season opened with 26 percent allocation of high-reliability water shares and a declared low risk of spill, which meant environmental water that was carried over from 2018–19 was available for use. Allocations against environmental entitlements in the Campaspe system steadily increased throughout 2019–20 and by April 2020 had reached 80 percent.

A combination of natural inflows, environmental flows, passing flows, operational flows and IVTs met or exceeded most of the dry-scenario watering actions that were planned for the Campaspe in 2019–20. The main deviations from the planned flow regime included a three- day cease-to-flow event in July 2019 to allow maintenance works at the Eppalock outlet tower and some periods of high IVTs between mid-October 2019 and mid-February 2020 that increased low flow by 20 ML per day above the recommended threshold. The IVT in 2019–20 was considered as low risk to the Campaspe River’s health compared to previous years when IVTs were around three to four times higher than the recommended flow. Past monitoring of IVTs had indicated an impact to native fish recruitment and riverside native vegetation.

Scope of environmental planning

Table 1 Potential environmental watering actions and objectives for the Campaspe River

Potential environmental watering action

Functional watering objective

Environmental objectives

Summer/autumn low flow (10–50 ML/day during December to May)

  • Maintain slackwater habitats for zooplankton and nursery habitats for native fish
  • Maintain the water quality and depth in deep pools in summer for native fish and platypus
  • Allow platypus to safely move between pools while foraging and ensure adequate food for lactating females
Fish iconPlatypus iconInsect icon

Year-round fresh (five to 200 ML/day for one to 14 days, as needed)

  • A fresh may be required when dissolved oxygen levels are below 5 mg/L, air temperatures are above 28°, there are high water temperatures and/ or low river flows to improve water quality along the river pools and de- stratify pools in reach 4, ensuring adequate oxygen to support aquatic animals (such as native fish and platypus)
Fish iconPlatypus iconInsect icon

Reduced1 winter/spring low flow (20–40 ML/day during June to November)

  • Increase longitudinal connectivity to allow native fish to access new habitats
  • Facilitate the long-distance movement of male platypus, especially in the August/October breeding season. Provide foraging opportunities across a wide range of habitats for females to develop fat reserves before breeding.
  • Maintain water quality by preventing pools stratifying
Fish iconPlatypus icon

Winter/spring freshes (two freshes of 1,100–1,600 ML/ day for two to five days during June to November)

  • Flush accumulated leaf litter from banks and low benches to reduce the risk of blackwater events during high river flow in summer
  • Maintain soil moisture for established river red gum and woody shrubs (such as bottlebrush and tea tree)
  • Maintain connectivity to allow native fish movement and access new habitats
  • Encourage females platypus to select a nesting burrow higher up the bank to reduce risk of high flow later in the year flooding the burrow when juveniles are present
Fish iconPlatypus iconPlant iconWater drop icon

Winter/spring low flow (40–200 ML/day during June to November)

  • Increase longitudinal connectivity to allow native fish to access new habitats
  • Facilitate long distance movement by male platypus especially in the August/October breeding season
  • Provide foraging opportunities across a wide range of habitats for female platypus to develop fat reserves before breeding
  • Maintain water quality by preventing pools stratifying
  • Reduce terrestrial plants colonising the lower sections of the riverbank and low benches in the channel
  • Maintain soil moisture in the riverbank to water established river red gums and woody shrubs
  • Help establish littoral vegetation
Fish iconPlatypus iconPlant iconInsect iconMountain icons

Summer/autumn freshes (one to three freshes 100–200 ML/day for two to three days during December to May)

Camping icon
  • Increase longitudinal connectivity to allow native fish to access new habitats
  • Wet submerged wood and flush fine silt and old biofilms to promote new biofilm growth and increase waterbug productivity for native fish and platypus
  • Facilitate the downstream dispersal of juvenile platypus in April/May to colonise other habitat areas
Fish iconPlatypus iconInsect icon

1 Winter low flow of 20-40 ML/day is below the environmental flow recommendation of a minimum of 50 ML/day due to low water availability in the drought-dry scenario

Engagement

Table 2 shows the partners and stakeholder organisations the North Central CMA engaged in preparing the Campaspe system 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 the North Central Waterway Strategy.

Table 2 Partners and stakeholders engaged in developing the Campaspe system seasonal watering proposals

Partner and stakeholder engagement
  • Echuca Moama Landcare Group
  • Strathallan Family Landcare Group
  • Common- wealth Environmental Water Office
  • Goulburn- Murray Water
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (land manager)
  • Game Management Authority
  • Individual landholders
  • VRFish
  • Local Canoe Clubs
  • Arthur Rylah Institute (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning)
  • Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation
  • Taungurung Land & Waters Council
  • Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation

Page last updated: 24/07/20