2017–18 watering priorities to build on best conditions in 25 years

30 June 2017

Capitalising on the wettest conditions for years to support native fish, waterbirds, native vegetation and river flows in the Basin are a key focus for watering priorities in 2017–18.

The annual watering priorities help guide environmental water holders and managers on where to focus environmental watering from a whole-of-Basin perspective.

MDBA Executive Director Environmental Management, Carl Binning said this year was the best opportunity seen in 25 years to help our rivers and wetlands thrive.

"Our assessment of conditions and storage volumes show that conditions are likely to support active use of water for the environment," Mr Binning said.

"While good rain in 2016 gave native plants and animals a chance to bounce back, many need follow-up watering to boost their resilience for dry times ahead.

"Last year's natural floods caused hypoxic blackwater that killed a lot of fish. While these conditions did kill fish they also provided food to the river that will help young fish survive in the longer-term.

"That's why this year we're recommending that water managers focus on helping fish to spawn, grow and move through the system.

"We have identified priorities covering more than one year, as some species and sites need targeted actions over a number of years to recover."

The priorities for 2017–18 include:

  • helping native fish populations recover by reinstating flows and connectivity, focusing on the southern connected Basin, the Barwon–Darling river, and across the Basin as a whole
  • improving abundance and diversity of the Basin's waterbird populations, using watering strategies that improve habitat for foraging and roosting
  • improving the condition of native vegetation like river red gum, black box and coolibah, and improving the condition of Moira grass in Barmah–Millewa Forest
  • improving connection between freshwater, estuarine and marine environments and improving habitat conditions in the Coorong.

"The Basin Plan is about striking a balance between the environment and communities and that's just what we're doing, working with water holders, Basin states and local communities to help native fish, birds and plants in the Basin to thrive," Mr Binning said.

The priorities can be found at: www.mdba.gov.au/publications/mdba-reports/basin-annual-environmental-watering-priorities-2017-18.

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For more information, contact the MDBA Media office at media@mdba.gov.au or 02 6279 0141

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