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Summary 2016–17

0 GL

water for the environment delivered at this site

0 GL

water used at this site

0 GL

flowing back to the river system

clipart representing water use


Water for the environment released a cross mark

Climate conditions

Flooding - Extensive natural flooding in the area clipart of a drop of water


Are there works at this site? a tick mark

Works in use this year? a tick mark

Updated December 2018

Chowilla Floodplain highlights 2016–17


Natural flooding in 2016, and the use of the works to deliver flows to the floodplain, resulted in wet conditions. River red gum and black box trees responded well. The health of both species has improved and the die-off caused by the extended dry conditions during the millennium drought has stopped. The condition of lignum and other floodplain understorey plants also improved significantly. 


Wet conditions provided suitable habitat across the region and conditions were great for waterbirds. 15 species of waterbirds were recorded on the Chowilla floodplain. Including rare and vulnerable species like the musk duck, freckled duck and Australasian shoveler. Approximately 150 of the vulnerable freckled duck were recorded at one wetland site.  Increased numbers of bushbird species including the vulnerable regent parrot were recorded during surveys. 


A tour of the floodplain with the First Nations of the River Murray and Mallee Region was held in October 2016 while the floodplain was in flood. This was a great chance to see and discuss the benefits of water for the environment, which has received strong support from people from the First Nations.

Water quality

Water quality was maintained and conditions within the Chowilla anabranch did not contribute to low dissolved oxygen levels during the broadscale blackwater (low oxygen water) event along the River Murray during 2016 and 2017.


3,036 fish from ten species were sampled at the fishways at Slaney and Pipeclay weirs in February 2017. This trapping showed that these fishways are functioning well, providing an important passage for fish to move between the River Murray and the Chowilla anabranch.

Past reports for Chowilla Floodplain

  Overall   Vegetation Fish Waterbirds Other
flood icon2016-17 B   A A B B
dry icon2015-16 C   C A B B
dry icon2014-15 C   C A C B
moderate icon2013-14 C   C A B B
moderate icon2012-13 C   C A B C
wet icon2011-12 C   C A A D
flood icon2010-11 C   C A A A
dry icon2009-10 C   C A A B
dry icon2008-09 C   D A A C
dry icon2007-08 -   - - - -
dry icon2006-07 -   - - - -
dry icon Dry flood icon Very Wet
wet icon Wet moderate icon Moderate

Each year, water is released into the environment depending on the climatic conditions. See the outcomes of water over time for a long-term view of how natural and released water affects the health of rivers.

a map of the Murray-Darling Basin see-our-progress MURRAY RIVER ADELAIDE Koondrook-Perricoota Forest Deniliquin Goolwa SOUTHAUSTRALIA VICTORIA NEW SOUTH WALES Barmah-Millewa Forest Hattah Lakes Lower Lakes, Coorong &Murray Mouth GunbowerForest Lindsay, Mulcra & Wallpolla Islands Blanchetown Mildura Swan Hill Albury-Wodonga Echuca ChowillaFloodplains

Current activities

A low level operation of the Chowilla regulator is delivering water for the environment through the anabranches and to adjacent wetlands. Increasing water levels to the top of the banks and moving water into high value wetlands is freshening the soil. This provides moisture for plants and trees to survive dry conditions and creates valuable habitat for wildlife. 

The increased health of river red gum trees is good news for endangered regent parrots, as they depend on the hollows of matures trees for nesting. Regent parrots have been sighted at Pilby Creek during bushbird monitoring. 

Riverland Aboriginal Rangers continue to conduct annual scar tree health monitoring. This work is building a valuable dataset to improve the knowledge of these heritages sites, and inform work to protect scar trees across the floodplain. 



Masked Lapwing
Masked Lapwing
New growth brandy bottle
New growth brandy bottle
New vegetation after flood
New vegetation after flood
River red gum
River red gum
Pelican on the River Murray
Pelican on the River Murray