Page 29 - VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2020-21
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Table 1.3.1 Main shared risks of environmental watering
1.3 Implementing the seasonal watering plan
 Type of risk
  Example mitigating actions
   Environmental watering contributes to third-party impacts
 • Identify and understand the capacities of water systems and monitor water levels at key locations to inform daily water release decisions to ensure impacts do
not eventuate.
• Consider potential catchment run-off from forecast rainfall before deciding on the timing of releases of water for the environment.
• Implement a communication strategy which may include media releases, public notices and signage before environmental flows, to ensure people are informed of significant deliveries of water for the environment and can adjust their behaviour accordingly. This includes early liaison with potentially affected stakeholders.
• Restrict access by closing gates and tracks.
   Inability to achieve or demonstrate ecological outcomes from environmental watering
  • Undertake intervention monitoring within available resources to identify the ecological response.
• Conduct research to better understand responses to water for the environment.
• Communicate the outcomes of monitoring and incorporate learnings into future
environmental watering.
• Consider the need for complementary works to help achieve environmental
watering outcomes as part of integrated catchment management and the likely timeframe for ecological responses to all management actions.
   Environmental watering has negative effects on the environment (for example blackwater, bank erosion and the spread of weeds)
   • Plan the timing, frequency, duration and variability of environmental flows to limit negative effects.
• Monitor environmental watering outcomes and adapt future deliveries and/or scientific recommendations if necessary.
   Even with best practice risk management controls, there may be unintended effects from environmental flows or situations where environmental flows cannot be delivered as planned. In those situations, program partners work together to respond to incidents and then learn and adapt their management of risks. The VEWH has developed an agreed approach to incident management to help program partners report, investigate and respond to risks.
1.3.7 How are environmental watering emergencies managed?
An emergency watering action is where water for the environment may be required to prevent, mitigate or respond to an acute environmental threat. Common threats are to water quality from low oxygen levels, toxic levels of blue-green algae, high temperatures or high salinity and water levels at a refuge habitat or breeding site that drop and pose an immediate risk to native aquatic biota.
Due to the unpredictability of acute environmental
threats, potential emergency watering actions may not be specifically described in sections 2 to 5 of this seasonal watering plan. The VEWH has developed an emergency watering procedure to allow unplanned emergency environmental watering actions to be taken at short notice.
Emergency watering procedure
Emergency environmental watering actions typically fall into two scenarios.
• Where the required watering action is not described (adequately or at all) in the current seasonal watering plan, but there is a valid seasonal watering statement with water available that covers other watering actions for the affected system and authorises a total volume that is sufficient for the proposed emergency watering action.
• Where there is no authorised seasonal watering statement for the affected system or there is insufficient water available under the seasonal watering statement to cover the proposed emergency watering action.
Under the first scenario, waterway managers may reprioritise watering actions authorised under the existing seasonal watering statement to allow an emergency watering action to be delivered without impacting the overall resource. Under the second scenario, waterway managers must request an emergency seasonal watering statement from the VEWH before water for the environment can be used for an emergency watering action. The VEWH has administrative processes to support emergency environmental watering decisions and to expedite requests for emergency seasonal watering statements.
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