Dry river gets a drink

By Country News

Improving the environment along the Broken River for platypus and native fish, including Murray cod, is the aim of an upcoming environmental flow by Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority.

Goulburn Broken CMA environmental water manager Simon Casanelia said due to dry conditions downstream of Lake Nillahcootie, sections of the river were still experiencing very low or no flows.

‘‘Ideally, to maintain water quality and bank vegetation, provide shelter and food for fish and wildlife such as platypus and support water bugs, we need at least 15Ml/day to flow along the Broken River,’’ Mr Casanelia said.

‘‘Due to limited tributary inflows and low operational releases from Lake Nillahcootie now the irrigation season has finished, this minimum flow target is unlikely to be met in the section of the river between Nillahcootie and Hollands Creek.

‘‘That’s why were using up to 250Ml of available water for the environment to maintain a base flow until at least the end of June.’’

Goulburn Broken CMA chief executive officer Chris Norman said if conditions remained dry the authority would continue to work with the Victorian and Commonwealth water holders and Goulburn-Murray Water to identify opportunities to secure additional water to support the delivery of the base flow beyond June.

However, if there is heavy rain, delivery of environmental flows will stop.

The authority said last April was the first time water for the environment was delivered along the Broken River.

During that event, flows below Lake Nillahcootie peaked at 300Ml/day (1.44m) then dropped back to about 80Ml/day.

The authority said recent monitoring showed promising increases in native fish numbers including silver and golden perch, Murray River rainbow fish and Murray cod in response to the environmental flows.

‘‘Anyone living by the Broken River knows how low the river is at the moment,’’ Mr Norman said.

‘‘Delivering this small amount of water is critical for maintaining the health of the entire river and the fish, wildlife and people who rely on it.’’