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Traditional Owner cultural values and uses
North East CMA has consulted with Taungurung Land
and Waters Council and Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation in environmental water planning for the Ovens system. The environmental and ecological objectives of the proposals were supported and align with the broad values of these Traditional Owner groups. Waterway managers
are seeking opportunities to increase the involvement of Traditional Owners in environmental water planning and management. Where Traditional Owners are more deeply involved in the planning and/or delivery of environmental flows for a particular site, their contribution is acknowledged in 5.3.1 with an icon.
Taungurung Land and Waters Council may consider using their water entitlement in the King River system to support environmental objectives as part of their goal of healing Country. Taungurung Land and Waters Council’s 39 ML of allocation has been released from Lake William Hovell twice previously as an environmental flow in partnership with North East CMA, Goulburn-Murray Water and the VEWH
to provide additional water to the King River and assist in healing Country. The flow provided a small variation within the water level to inundate new habitat for instream biota (fish and macroinvertebrates), allowing them to move more freely and find new sources of food.
Social, recreational and economic values and uses
In planning the potential watering actions in Table 5.3.1, North East CMA considered how environmental flows could support values and uses including:
• water-based recreation (such as boating and fishing)
• riverside recreation and amenity (such as camping)
• community events and tourism (such as providing a setting for community gatherings and sporting events, and citizen science projects)
• socio-economic benefits (such as businesses used by anglers).
If the timing or management of planned environmental flows may be modified to align with a community benefit, this is acknowledged in Table 5.3.1 with an icon.
Environmental water will be used to top up Mullinmur Wetland over summer, support aquatic vegetation and support native catfish which were translocated to the wetland in 2019 from a drying lake in Barham, New South Wales. This will enable the site to be used as a catfish broodstock location for future reintroductions into the region.
The water will also support other benefits for the local community, as the site is managed by the Catholic Education Department with support from Wangaratta Landcare and Sustainability Incorporated. It is used as a community and environmental educational site for Galen Catholic College students, young people attending the Borinya Wangaratta Community Partnership and other members of the local community, demonstrating the important ecological functions that wetlands provide and how water for the environment is used to support ecological values.
Recent conditions
Hot, dry conditions prevailed throughout much of the Ovens River catchment in 2019–20, resulting in flows into Lake Buffalo and Lake William Hovel being well below the long- term average until rainfall began filling storages in March 2020. Water for the environment held in Lake Buffalo was used in conjunction with an operational bulk water transfer to deliver a small autumn fresh in the Buffalo River in early March. Small increases in river height were also observed in reach 4 of the Ovens River during this fresh. Water for the environment was delivered in conjunction with water held by the Taungurung Land and Waters Council from Lake William Hovell in late March, providing flow variability to reaches 3 and 4 of the King River.
Bushfires burnt large areas of the catchment above Lake Buffalo during summer, and subsequent heavy rainfall washed ash and other sediment into upstream tributaries, causing poor water quality on occasions in the Buffalo and Ovens rivers. Natural events, operational deliveries and the use of water for the environment helped flush deposited ash and sediments and improve water quality.
Water for the environment was delivered to Mullinmur Wetland at Wangaratta for the first time in December 2019, to prepare habitat for translocated freshwater catfish. A second top-up was delivered in February 2020, to maintain water levels to support the growth and recruitment of aquatic vegetation and sustain the translocated fish.
Scope of environmental watering
Table 5.3.1 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 objectives they support. Each environmental objective relies on one or more potential environmental watering actions and their associated physical or biological functions.
5.3 Ovens system
    Watering planned and/or delivered in partnership with Traditional Owners to support Aboriginal cultural values and uses
    Watering planned to support angling activities
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