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1.1.8 How do we know the environmental watering program is successful?
Effective monitoring is essential for the continued improvement of the environmental watering program.
It provides information that can be shared with all stakeholders to demonstrate the outcomes of watering actions, and it identifies what is needed to improve the effectiveness of future watering actions.
The effect of water for the environment in Victoria is directly assessed through large-scale monitoring programs, which measure multiple indicators at multiple sites over multiple years. There are also discrete investigations that examine responses at a single wetland or river reach.
DELWP funds two programs that monitor environmental watering outcomes at a statewide scale. The Victorian Environmental Flows Monitoring Assessment Program (VEFMAP) investigates the effect that environmental flows in Victorian rivers have on native fish and aquatic and riparian vegetation. The Wetland Monitoring Assessment Program (WetMAP) examines the effect that water for the environment has on native vegetation, waterbirds, fish and frogs in wetlands.
Selected Victorian waterways are monitored as part of
three Murray-Darling Basin environmental water monitoring programs. The MDBA funds environmental condition
and intervention monitoring activities at Barmah Forest, Gunbower Forest, Hattah Lakes and the Lindsay, Mulcra and Wallpolla islands as part of The Living Murray program. Annual condition report cards that are produced for each site demonstrate the effect of more than a decade of environmental watering at these important icon sites
(see Figure 1.1.5). The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) funds fish, vegetation, stream metabolism and bank erosion monitoring in the lower Goulburn River
as part of its basinwide Long-term Intervention Monitoring program. The Australian Government, along with key research organisations and jurisdictional agencies, funds the Environmental Water Knowledge and Research program, which investigates four themes — vegetation, fish, waterbirds and food webs — to improve the science that supports the management of water for the environment in the Murray-Darling Basin.
The VEWH funds waterway managers to conduct discrete, short-term investigations at river reaches and wetlands. These investigations focus on learning and adaptive management.
A secondary focus of the VEWH’s monitoring investment is communications, engagement and reporting to the community. To achieve these, the VEWH helps community groups, citizen scientists and Traditional Owners observe and report on the outcomes of the environmental
watering program.
The VEWH and its program partners regularly liaise with scientists who are monitoring responses on the ground and with organisations responsible for overseeing the larger-scale monitoring programs, to ensure the most up-to-date information is used to inform environmental watering decisions. The VEWH also reports some of the available monitoring results in its annual Reflections report, to increase awareness about environmental watering outcomes among all stakeholders and the community.
Figure 1.1.5 shows scores by the MDBA of the overall achievement of ecological objectives for Living Murray icon sites between 2006–07 and 2017–18. Sites with scores higher in the alphabet have consistently received a large proportion of their water regime for five or more years.
See for details.
1.1 The Victorian environmental watering program
     Victorian Environmental Water Holder | Seasonal Watering Plan 2020–21 | 15

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