Page 214 - VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2020-21
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 5.2 Victorian Murray system
5.2.3 Central Murray wetlands
System overview
The central Murray wetlands are located on the lower Loddon River and Murray River floodplains. The wetland system includes Round Lake, Lake Cullen, Lake Elizabeth, Lake Murphy, Johnson Swamp, Hird Swamp, Richardson’s Lagoon, McDonalds Swamp, Third Reedy Lake, the Wirra-Lo wetland complex and Guttrum and Benwell state forests.
The Central Murray wetlands are almost wholly contained within the Torrumbarry Irrigation Area and are all wetlands of regional or international significance. The area has experienced dramatic changes since European settlement with the construction of levees, roads and channels. Most of the wetlands are now cut off from natural flow paths and are rarely filled by natural floods. They rely on water for the environment to maintain their ecological character and health.
Ten of the central Murray wetlands can receive water for the environment from permanent infrastructure: Lake Cullen, Hird Swamp, Johnson Swamp, Round Lake, McDonalds Swamp, Lake Elizabeth, Lake Murphy, Richardson’s Lagoon, Third Reedy Lake and the Wirra-Lo wetland complex. Temporary pumps may be used to deliver water for the environment from the Murray River to some semi- permanent wetlands in the Guttrum and Benwell forests.
Environmental values
The wetlands in the Central Murray system support numerous listed threatened species ranging from vulnerable to critically endangered including the Australasian bittern, Murray hardyhead, Australian painted snipe, growling grass frog and the southern purple spotted gudgeon, which
was presumed extinct in Victoria until it was found at Third Reedy Lake in spring 2019. When the wetlands receive environmental water, they can attract prolific birdlife and provide feeding and breeding habitat for many threatened and endangered bird species (including the eastern great egret and white-bellied sea eagle) listed under legislation and international agreements. Lake Cullen, Hird Swamp and Johnson Swamp are internationally recognised under the Ramsar Convention, while the other wetlands in the Central Murray system have bioregional significance.
Environmental watering objectives in the central Murray wetlands
    Maintain and improve populations of listed threatened species including critically endangered Murray hardyhead and southern purple spotted gudgeon
Maintain or increase populations of common small-bodied native fish (such as carp gudgeon and flatheaded gudgeon)
    Maintain and improve populations of endangered growling grass frog
Maintain populations of common native frogs (such as barking marsh frog, Peron’s tree frog and spotted grass frog)
    Maintain populations of native turtle species (such as Murray River turtle and the common long necked turtle)
   Restore and maintain the health of streamside trees (such as river red gum and black box)
Restore and maintain mudflat vegetation communities (such as tall marsh, herblands, rushes and sedges)
Restore and maintain native aquatic vegetation species (such as tassel, milfoil and pondweed)
Reduce the extent and density of invasive plant species
Support a mosaic of wetland plant communities across the region
    Provide resting, feeding and breeding habitat for a variety of waterbird feeding guilds including threatened species (such as Australasian bittern, little bittern and brolga)
   Provide carbon and nutrients to Pyramid Creek to boost the riverine food web
   212 | Victorian Environmental Water Holder | Seasonal Watering Plan 2020–21

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