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Published: 17 November 2010   •   Media release

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority today advised of poor water quality in the River Murray downstream of Barmah and in the Edward River downstream of Toonalook.

The poor quality water is in relation to a 'blackwater event' arising from flooding of the Barmah–Millewa Forest. The flooding has occurred following several months of heavy rainfall across the upper Murray catchments resulting in high inflows from Kiewa and Ovens Rivers and Hume Dam spilling.

Blackwater events occur naturally due to the rapid breakdown of leaf litter on the forest floor causing water discolouration and at times very low dissolved oxygen levels. It is expected that flooding in the Barmah-Millewa Forest will continue over the coming weeks. The poor quality water in the Murray will mix with fresh inflows from the Goulburn River, reducing its impact downstream.

The Authority, together with New South Wales and Victorian agencies, will continue to monitor the water quality and explore measures to lessen the impact of the blackwater event. This includes releasing fresh water from irrigation systems to the river, such as from Mulwala Canal and Yarrawonga Channel. Whilst such measures may reduce the severity of blackwater impacts, they are unlikely to eliminate them.

River users are advised to take the water quality into account when planning their activities around the River Murray and Edward River.

Further advice will be issued if circumstances change significantly.

For more information contact the MDBA Media office at

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