More than 45000Ml of mostly irrigation water has flowed down the Campaspe River since early January, with gentler flows expected to continue until December.
The environmental flows, which will start again in the coming weeks, will see a maximum of 200Ml a day flow downstream from Lake Eppalock — two-thirds less water than the previous five months.
North Central Catchment Management Authority environmental water reserve project manager Darren White said the water would help the river survive when it needed to and thrive when it could, but conceded the timing of the flows was not perfect.
‘‘That amount of water at that time of the year is not ideal, and well above the environmental recommendations of 6000Ml,’’ Mr White said.
‘‘However, the Campaspe is a working river and an important one for irrigation communities. Water for the environment is a key part in helping the river deal with the pressures of irrigation.
‘‘Water for the environment is about the right amount of water at the right time.’’
Mr White said a lot of fringing vegetation in the river appeared stressed, with conditions needing to be re-established for spring, as well as to allow snags to breathe so they could provide perfect breeding grounds for waterbugs.
‘‘Vegetation such as this needs fluctuating water levels, and this flow will deliver those. We aren’t sure of the impact of the recent large irrigation flows on native fish yet, but this healthy flow will be closer to what they need,’’ he said.
‘‘In total, the amount of water of this flow will be about 10 per cent of what is in Lake Eppalock now, and just over five per cent of the lake’s total capacity.’’