Page 45 - VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2020-21
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How have economic, recreational and social values and uses of waterways been considered?
Environmental outcomes provide some direct economic, recreational, social benefits to communities. Waterway managers, in consultation with communities, have identified numerous opportunities to support these community benefits including activities such as tourism, kayaking, birdwatching, fishing, water skiing and hunting. Examples of these opportunities in the Gippsland region include:
• encouraging the spawning and recruitment of Australia bass, a popular recreational angling species in the Macalister and Thomson systems
• supporting waterbirds in the lower Latrobe wetlands, which are valued by birdwatchers and duck hunters. Duck-hunting seasons may be considered in the timing of wetland filling
• delivering flows in the Thomson River that refresh waterholes and improve summer swimming conditions. This is particularly important in the upper reaches of the river, where camping, hiking and swimming are popular recreational activities
• complementing community efforts to rehabilitate the Heyfield wetlands. An environmental watering trial in the western portion of the wetlands will assist the growth
of native, semi-aquatic vegetation planted by students and other volunteers, support community educational programs, provide amenity adjacent to public walking tracks and provide opportunities to engage with nature
• increasing opportunities for canoers and kayakers to take advantage of high flows and white water on the Thomson and Snowy rivers.
Summaries of the social, recreational and economic values considered are provided for each system. Where the timing or management of planned environmental flows may be modified to align with a community benefit, this is identified alongside the potential watering actions.
Integrated catchment management
Altered water regimes are one of many threats to the health of Victoria’s waterways. To be effective, environmental flows need to be part of an integrated approach to catchment management. Many of the environmental objectives from water for the environment in the Gippsland region will not be fully met without simultaneously addressing issues such as barriers to fish movement, high nutrient loads, invasive species and loss of stream bank vegetation.
Victorian and Australian government agencies, Traditional Owner groups, community groups and private landholders collectively implement a wide range of programs that aim to protect and improve the environmental condition and function of land, soils and waterways throughout Victoria’s catchments.
Examples of complementary programs that are likely to support environmental watering outcomes in the Gippsland region include:
• works by West Gippsland CMA to protect and enhance stream banks along priority reaches of rivers and
their tributaries including fencing to exclude stock, revegetation of riverbanks, willow removal and erosion control
• West Gippsland CMA’s work with farmers along the Thomson and Macalister rivers on grazing and soil management, and on nutrient and water-use-efficiency projects that help to improve water quality and river health
• construction of a fishway on the Thomson River by West Gippsland CMA to improve fish passage near the heritage-listed Horseshoe Bend Tunnel, completed in August 2019. The fishway now allows Australian grayling, which are specifically targeted with releases of water for the environment, and other migratory fish, to access over 200 km of river habitat from the upper reaches of the Aberfeldy River down to the Latrobe River. Tupong have since been found above the Horseshoe Bend Tunnel in surveys conducted by the Arthur Rylah Institute
• a weed and willow control program by East Gippsland CMA in remote parts of the Snowy River catchment, which led to 200 km of the river now being willow-free: native vegetation is flourishing in areas where willows have been removed.
For more information about integrated catchment management programs in the Gippsland region, refer to the West Gippsland and East Gippsland regional catchment strategies and regional waterway strategies.
Risk management
During the development of the seasonal watering proposals for the Latrobe, Thomson and Macalister systems, environmental watering program partners assessed risks associated with potential environmental watering actions for 2020–21 and identified appropriate mitigating strategies. Risks and mitigating actions are continually assessed by program partners throughout the year (see subsection 1.3.6).
In the Snowy system, when weather conditions increase the risk of flooding, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment works with the NSW State Emergency Service, the Bureau of Meteorology, East Gippsland CMA and the VEWH to inform the community about the management
of planned releases. Releases may be cancelled or rescheduled to limit flood impacts on private land.
2.1 Gippsland region overview
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