Page 209 - VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2020-21
P. 209

Social, recreational and economic values and uses
In planning the potential watering actions in Table 5.2.5, North Central CMA considered how environmental flows could support values and uses including:
• riverside recreation and amenity (such as birdwatching, duck hunting and photography)
• community events and tourism (such as park visitation)
• socio-economic benefits (such as timber harvesting and education).
Recent conditions
Gunbower Forest and surrounding areas have had below- average rainfall and above-average temperatures for the last three years.
In 2019–20, no natural inflows entered the Gunbower Forest from the Murray River, but a managed spring high- flow event in the Murray River provided an opportunity
to deliver water through Yarran Creek to facilitate fish movement between Gunbower Creek and the Murray River. Water for the environment was used in winter 2019 to fill or top-up wetlands in Reedy Lagoon and the Little Gunbower wetland complex within Gunbower Forest. In the absence of a natural flood, selected wetlands within these complexes are planned to be allowed to draw down in 2020 to reduce carp numbers, before potential top-ups in autumn 2021.
Water for the environment was also delivered to Gunbower Creek in 2019–20 to maintain habitat for native fish during winter (when irrigation flows cease) and to improve the quality of nursery habitats for native fish (especially Murray cod) during spring and summer. Annual fish surveys in Gunbower Creek have detected successful breeding
and survival of Murray cod each year that water for the environment has been delivered, and the surveys are showing improved abundance and age structure within the resident Murray cod population over time.
Golden perch do not appear to breed successfully in Gunbower Creek, and there are major barriers that limit exchanges with populations in the Murray River and other connected systems. Planned works to build a fishway at Koondrook Weir in winter 2021 aim to improve connectivity between the Murray River and Gunbower Creek. This
will allow large-scale fish movement to support natural recruitment within Gunbower Creek and to allow Murray cod and other species that currently breed in Gunbower Creek to disperse and contribute to broader regional populations.
Scope of environmental watering
Table 5.2.5 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.
5.2 Victorian Murray system
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