A rethinking of flow patterns in the Lower Darling is being held up as an example of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder working with river operators to deliver beneficial outcomes for both the environment and irrigators.
Operational water releases have been reduced to 700ML a day, in an attempt to create a more favourable environment for Murray cod.
The Lower Darling supports one of the Basin’s most robust populations of the fish, of which this time of year is a crucial period for breeding.
Last financial year, more than 100GL of water was released in the Lower Darling with an aim to boosting native fish populations.
Fish ecologist Clayton Sharp said that release was scheduled to coincide with the strongest Murray cod spawning season on record.
“The modified flow pattern of operational water currently being delivered aims to support both the spawning of Murray cod this year – by removing overt flow variability – and the growth of Murray cod and golden perch produced last year,” he said.
“Delivering this strategy is very important. It allows us to consolidate and build on the great fish outcome from last year.”
Commonwealth Environmental Water Office spokesperson Hilton Taylor said: “We are starting to think more creatively about how to coordinate the use of all the water in the system, for both operational and environmental needs.
“In this case, we are able to influence the shape and timing of the operational flows in the lower Darling to benefit Murray cod, while coordinating with environmental water resources in the Murray to ensure there is no impact on operational supply.”
Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has also announced the appointment of six permanent local engagement officers to the Murray-Darling Basin.
Three new officers – to be based in Walgett, Tamworth, Wodonga and Wagga Wagga – are joining three incumbents in Mildura and Berri.
The officers are:
Michelle Campbell – Berri
Richard Mintern – Mildura
Jason Wilson – Walgett
Erin Lenon – Wagga Wagga
Anthony Wilson – Wodonga
Neil Foster – Tamworth
Wilson, a Yuwalaaraay/Euahlayiand and Kamilaroi traditional owner, is the office’s first Aboriginal local engagement officer.