Page 194 - VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2020-21
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 5.1 Northern region overview
 What is the Basin Plan 2012?
Northern Victoria is a part of the Murray-Darling Basin and deliveries of water for the environment in the northern region are subject to the requirements of the Basin Plan 2012, also known as the Murray-Darling Basin Plan or just the Basin Plan. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) developed the Basin Plan under the Commonwealth Water Act
2007 and it became law in November 2012. The Basin Plan sets legal limits on the amount of water that can be taken from the Murray-Darling Basin’s surface and groundwater resources. Chapter 8 of the Basin Plan sets out a high-level environmental watering plan, which defines environmental objectives to protect, restore and build the resilience of water- dependent ecosystems and their associated functions. The VEWH’s environmental planning and delivery is consistent with the requirements of the Basin Plan. The potential environmental watering outlined in sections 4 and 5 of this seasonal watering plan fulfil Victoria’s obligations to identify annual environmental watering priorities for Victoria’s water resource areas under section 8.26 of the Basin Plan 2012.
 What is River Murray Increased Flows (RMIF)?
River Murray Increased Flows (RMIF) is water for the environment that has been recovered as part of the Snowy Water Initiative, established in 2002 to address environmental impacts associated with the operation of the Snowy Mountains Scheme. RMIF is stored in Snowy Hydro Limited’s storages and released to maintain and improve environmental values in the Murray River. RMIF becomes available when:
• Snowy Hydro Limited release more than their nominated annual release volume, as part of their power generation operations and/or
• environmental water managers request additional RMIF be made available when volumes in Murray River storages exceed specified limits.
The call for and use of RMIF are coordinated by the Southern Connected Basin Environmental Watering Committee, and they must be authorised by the VEWH and NSW Department of Primary Industry and Environment.
Northern Victoria and the southern Murray-Darling Basin
Rivers, creeks and floodplains in northern Victoria form part of the southern-connected Murray-Darling Basin. Water flows directly from the Victorian rivers and floodplains
into the Murray River, which means that environmental flows delivered in northern Victorian systems can
achieve ecological objectives at multiple sites throughout the Murray-Darling Basin. For example, water for the environment delivered in the Goulburn River flows into the Murray River and can be managed to ensure it flows all the way to the Lower Lakes and Coorong in South Australia (SA), providing environmental outcomes at Gunbower Forest, Hattah Lakes, Lindsay Island and the Chowilla floodplain along the way.
The Basin Plan 2012 and the Basin-wide environmental watering strategy (second edition, 2019) guide the long- term planning of water for the environment in the Murray- Darling Basin. Under the Basin Plan, environmental objectives are met by achieving outcomes for connectivity, native vegetation, waterbirds and native fish.
Objectives and outcomes under the Basin Plan reflect local site- and state-based objectives, though site-based objectives are often broader in scope and cover additional values (such as frogs, turtle, waterbugs and physical processes like sediment movement). Watering actions that support Basin Plan outcomes have significant benefits for many other species that rely on the surrounding landscape (such as squirrel gliders living along the lower Campaspe River or flocks of regent parrots moving into the Hattah Lakes floodplain after watering).
The VEWH coordinates its activities with other environmental water holders in northern Victoria, NSW and SA to achieve environmental outcomes at the southern- connected Murray-Darling Basin scale. Collaborative planning focuses on how upstream and downstream objectives align and how the broader operation of the Murray River system can help support environmental outcomes.
Environmental water holders are also increasingly considering the objectives and cultural values of First Nations in the Murray-Darling Basin in alignment with environmental water objectives, outcomes and priorities (for further information see ‘How are Traditional Owners’ values and uses considered?’ on pages 189 and 190). It is recognised that the health of the Murray-Darling Basin benefits from meaningful partnerships with Traditional Owners and their involvement in water planning, coordination and delivery from the local to the basin scale is a priority for environmental water holders.
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