Water

Wetland to benefit from watering

By Country News

About 3.5Gl is set to flow though the Little Gunbower Wetland Complex this month, as the wetland receives an environmental watering.

The semi-permanent wetland plays an important role in the area, according to North Central Catchment Management Authority acting program delivery executive manager Rohan Hogan.

‘‘Interestingly, if all the regulating structures along the Murray River were removed, the Gunbower Forest floodplain would have received water in seven of the 10 years of the recent millennium drought, despite the dry,’’ Mr Hogan said.

‘‘Instead, with river regulation, only a small amount of water entered the forest in three of those 10 years, reaching only some of the wetlands and none of the broader floodplain.

‘‘As a result, the floodplain is still recovering, and regulation and a changing climate have contributed to a significant loss of habitat across the landscape, and a reduction in the frequency and size of breeding events of colonial nesting waterbirds.’’

The Little Gunbower Wetland Complex is home to a raft of animals, and Mr Hogan said watering in dry times was a key part of managing the wetland successfully, as well as building resilience.

‘‘This is water set aside for the waterways and the floodplains,’’ he said.

‘‘It can’t be used for any other purpose unless there isn’t an environmental need for it in our region.

‘‘And with the dry conditions, there is plenty of need.

‘‘We acknowledge we are in dry times, and we have planned accordingly, in consultation with our Gunbower community reference group.’’

The North Central CMA said plans for 2019-20 were being reviewed, with future plans to water another semi-permanent wetland in Gunbower Forest to ensure that, if dry conditions continue, enough high-quality habitat is available to support waterbirds and other wetland-dependent animals.