More water to combat dry

By Country News

Watering of the Murray-Darling Basin’s rivers and wetlands will continue to be a priority for the Murray-Darling Basin Authority into the next year.

Following a dry trend across the basin over the past 12 months, planning for environmental watering will anticipate moderate conditions in the southern basin.

MDBA science and evaluation acting general manager Matt Coleman said water managers would aim to bank the progress made in 2017-18, improving conditions for native species at key sites.

‘‘A key priority for water managers is to provide connectivity for native fish throughout the basin and to also maintain waterbird habitats and vegetation,’’ Dr Coleman said.

‘‘We have also committed to incorporating traditional owner knowledge into the planning and management of water for the environment.

‘‘In the drier catchments, we will encourage water managers to focus on in-channel events, floodplains close to the main rivers, providing drought refuges for native species, and also supporting critical habitats such as wetlands for birds.’’

For wetter catchments, Dr Coleman said the focus would be on building on the progress from the past two seasons, allowing them to be better prepared to survive drier times and support breeding and growth.

‘‘The environmental watering priorities have been released each year for the past six years as part of the MDBA’s commitment to transparency,’’ he said.

‘‘It provides a common road map to help water holders and managers to plan co-operative and collaborative watering events.

‘‘It’s important to remember in dry times that environmental water holders, like irrigators, manage water entitlements with annual allocations — and just like any other water holder, they are subject to allocation restrictions.’’