Page 218 - VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2020-21
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 5.2 Victorian Murray system
Social, recreational and economic values and uses
In planning the potential watering actions in Table 5.2.8, North Central CMA considered how environmental flows could support values and uses including:
• water-based recreation (such as kayaking, canoeing, fishing, swimming and water sports)
• riverside recreation and amenity (such as walking, running, cycling, camping, birdwatching and duck hunting)
• community events and tourism (such as visitation during the hunting and fishing seasons, Breakfast with the Birds events (North Central CMA), supporting Aboriginal cultural heritage and history-based tours)
• socio-economic benefits (such as ecosystem services like groundwater recharge, flood mitigation, nutrient treatment and carbon storage).
Recent conditions
The central Murray area had below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures throughout most of 2019–20. Rainfall in spring 2019 was well below the long-term average and as a result, storage inflows for the year were also much lower than average. Water for the environment was delivered to seven central Murray wetlands in 2019–20 in line with planning under a dry scenario.
Round Lake and Lake Elizabeth received environmental water during 2019–20 to maintain salinity within the target range for endangered Murray hardyhead. Lake Cullen, which has held water since the natural floods in 2016,
was topped up in spring 2019 to support the growth and recruitment of submerged and emergent aquatic plants and provide feeding and roosting habitat for waterbirds.
Wirra-Lo wetland complex received environmental water during the spring and summer 2019–20 that primarily targeted growling grass frogs and wetland vegetation communities. Wetting and drying regimes are being staggered across the eight wetlands within the Wirra-
lo wetland complex based on their ecological condition and site-specific watering needs, including to support revegetation projects and the feeding and breeding habitat of various species (such as the growling grass frog and Australasian bittern).
Water for the environment was delivered to Reed Bed Swamp and Little Reed Bed Swamp in Guttrum Forest for the first time in spring 2019. The watering action aimed to reduce the recent encroachment of river red gum saplings across the bed of the wetland and provide feeding and breeding habitat for waterbirds and frogs. Many of the large old fringing river red gums showed improved tree canopy with new growth after the watering event.
Johnson Swamp was filled in spring 2019 to provide food and breeding habitat for waterbirds, especially Australasian bittern. Subsequent monitoring detected Australasian bittern breeding calls as well as large numbers of small- bodied native fish, waterbugs, frogs and eastern long-neck turtles. A spring fresh in Pyramid Creek was partly diverted through Johnson Swamp to help export nutrients, carbon and waterbugs from the wetland into the creek to increase the productivity of riverine food webs.
After completing its drying cycle, McDonalds Swamp received a partial fill in autumn 2020. The watering aimed to promote the growth of planted and naturally recruited river red gums, support early plant germination and promote winter feeding conditions for waterbirds and frogs, and prime the wetland for a spring fill.
Water for the environment was delivered to Third Reedy Lake for the first time in 2019–20. Goulburn-Murray Water used to manage Third Reedy Lake as a water storage,
but it is no longer needed for that purpose and the long- term plan for the site is to restore a more natural wetting and drying regime to support a range of environmental values. Ecological surveys conducted as part of the de- commissioning work recorded several southern purple spotted gudgeon at the site. The species was thought to be extinct in Victoria, and water for the environment is currently being used to maintain the population at Third Reedy Lake while long-term management plans for the site and the species are being developed.
Scope of environmental watering
Table 5.2.8 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.
    216 | Victorian Environmental Water Holder | Seasonal Watering Plan 2020–21

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