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 3.6 Moorabool system
Traditional Owner cultural values and uses
The Wadawurrung are Traditional Owners of the land of the Moorabool River and parts of the Barwon, Leigh and Yarrowee rivers. Eastern Marr Aboriginal Corporation also have Country within areas of the Barwon River.
During 2019, the Wadawurrung partnered with Corangamite CMA to complete an environmental flows study for the upper Barwon, Yarrowee and Leigh rivers. Environmental flows studies are essential technical references for river managers which identify the types of flows needed to support environmental and cultural values in a river system.
The cultural values identified in the flows study are applicable to all waterways within Wadawurrung Country, including the Moorabool River. The values include:
• significant aquatic species such as buniya (eels), ware-up (river blackfish), tark (common reed) and bal-yun (cumbungi) which are traditional food, materials or medicinal sources
• waterway confluences and deep pools which are places for meeting, ceremonies and trade and mark clan boundaries.
Potential watering actions for the Moorabool River that support these values are identified in Table 3.6.1 using the icon below.
Social, recreational and economic values and uses
In planning the potential watering actions in Table 3.6.1, Corangamite CMA considered how environmental flows could support values and uses including:
• water-based recreation (such as kayaking, canoeing, fishing and swimming)
• riverside recreation and amenity (such as birdwatching, walking, camping, picnicking and using parks and lookouts)
• socio-economic benefits (such as diverters for irrigation, domestic and stock uses, and Geelong’s water supply).
Recent conditions
Total rainfall in the Moorabool catchment in 2019–20
was slightly below the long-term average, but there was significant variation between and within seasons. Winter 2019 was wetter than average, and Lal Lal Reservoir filled to 99 percent capacity in November 2019. The second
half of spring and the first half of summer were drier than average, but February through to April 2020 saw a return to wetter-than-average conditions.
The wet winter provided some minor and moderate peaks in discharge in July and August 2019 as inflows continued to run off the catchment. As such, the recommended minimum low flows for winter and spring were met by natural inflows in 2019–20. Water for the environment was used to deliver freshes in August and October 2019, maintain low flows in reaches 3a and 3b throughout summer and autumn and to deliver targeted freshes throughout the system in summer and autumn.
The Moorabool River near Batesford (reach 4) stopped flowing in January 2020. This part of the river is directly connected to the underlying groundwater table and often ceases to flow in summer. As a result, low flow releases from Lal Lal Reservoir in January were increased from
five ML per day to 10 ML per day over a week to extend flow into reach 4. Water for the environment was also used to deliver freshes in late summer and autumn 2020 to cue the downstream migration of native fish, support platypus dispersal, flush the system and water the fringing vegetation.
Scope of environmental watering
Table 3.6.1 describes the potential environmental watering actions in 2020–21, their functional watering objectives (that is, the intended physical or biological effect of the watering action) and the longer-term environmental objective(s) they support. Each environmental objective relies on one or more potential environmental watering actions and their associated physical or biological functions.
  Watering planned and/or delivered in partnership with Traditional Owners to support Aboriginal cultural values and uses
    118 | Victorian Environmental Water Holder | Seasonal Watering Plan 2020–21

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