Page 285 - VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2020-21
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The Loddon system includes the Loddon River (including Tullaroop, Serpentine and Pyramid creeks), the Boort wetlands and Birchs Creek.
5.7.1 Loddon River system (including Tullaroop, Serpentine and Pyramid creeks)
System overview
The Loddon River flows from the Great Dividing Range in the south to the Murray River in the north. Tullaroop Creek is the main tributary in the upper Loddon River system. The middle section of the Loddon River is characterised by many distributary streams and anabranches that carry water away from the river onto the floodplain. The lower Loddon River is joined by Pyramid Creek at Kerang, at which point the Loddon becomes part of the Murray River floodplain.
Two main storages are located on the Loddon River: Cairn Curran and Tullaroop reservoirs, with Lake Laanecoorie used to regulate water from the main storages to the Loddon River. Below Laanecoorie Reservoir, the flow is regulated by the operation of the Bridgewater, Serpentine, Loddon and Kerang weirs.
Water for the environment can be delivered to the Loddon River from Cairn Curran or Tullaroop reservoirs or from the Goulburn system via the Waranga Western Channel, which intersects with the Loddon River at Loddon Weir. Water
is provided to Pyramid Creek through releases from Kow Swamp, which receives water diverted from the Murray River at Torrumbarry Weir. Water is diverted from the Loddon River to Serpentine Creek and to the Loddon Valley Irrigation Area to supply agriculture.
The highly regulated nature of the Loddon system provides both challenges and opportunities for effective management of water for the environment. The ability to manipulate
the timing of releases at multiple locations provides opportunities to accomplish environmental outcomes at discrete locations. However, coordinating environmental flows and consumptive flows is difficult through the irrigation season, especially when irrigation demand is high or flow
in the river is highly variable. This can lead to constraints in the timing and delivery of water for the environment or higher-than-recommended flows above Loddon Weir. The structures used for managing irrigation water form barriers in the waterway, restricting continuity and the ability to achieve outcomes for native fish and possibly platypus.
Environmental values
The Loddon River system supports platypus, rakali
(water rats) and several species of native fish. Streamside vegetation varies in condition depending on the recent water regime, the extent of clearing and historic and current land management practices. Those areas remaining relatively intact support a variety of woodland birds and other native animals. Important plant species across the system include cane grass, tangled lignum, black box and river red gum.
Although fish populations in the Loddon system are affected by the many barriers caused by weirs and reservoirs, a large range of species are still found through the catchment. Native fish are most abundant and diverse in the upper catchment. River blackfish are found in Serpentine Creek and rare Murray-Darling rainbow fish are found in the middle and lower sections of the Loddon River.
The highest-priority reach for environmental watering is
from Loddon Weir to Kerang Weir. The reach does not carry irrigation water, and it relies heavily on environmental flows to maintain its environmental condition. Environmental flows to this reach aim to improve the condition of streamside vegetation, maintain water quality and increase the abundance and diversity of native fish. Environmental flows are delivered to the upper Loddon River, Tullaroop Creek and Serpentine Creek to maintain or increase populations of river blackfish and platypus.
Pyramid Creek and the lower Loddon River support large-bodied fish (such as golden perch, Murray cod and silver perch) and are important corridors for fish migration between the Loddon and Murray systems. Engineering works to provide fish passage at the Chute, Box Creek regulator, Kerang Weir, Fish Point Weir and Little Murray Weir on the Little Murray River in recent years have
been important in reopening these migration routes. The Arthur Rylah Institute has monitored fish movement and populations in Pyramid Creek and the lower Loddon River since 2017, and results have indicated that the combined Loddon-Pyramid flow is stimulating native fish movement through the fishways.
5.7 Loddon system
   Victorian Environmental Water Holder | Seasonal Watering Plan 2020–21 | 283

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