Menindee Lakes at sunset. Photo: Koenraad Van Landeghem/DAWE
Water for the environment is being released into the lower Darling/Baaka to help boost the health of the river and support recovery of native fish after years of very dry conditions.
Spring flows were timed with Murray cod breeding season and continued through to mid-summer to support baby fish.
Spring monitoring detected:
- a Murray cod spawning event, with Murray cod larvae present throughout the lower Darling/Baaka
- adult golden perch throughout the lower Darling/Baaka, which scientists have reported are ‘ripe’ and ready to spawn, although numbers of adults are low compared to the population prior to the fish kill events
- juvenile golden perch in the Menindee Lakes, which have moved downstream into the lakes following breeding upstream triggered by the February/March flow events in the Northern Basin.
Based on these results, and the advice of local fisheries experts, a small increase in flows down the lower Darling/Baaka was delivered in November to:
- inundate more of the river channel, providing increased food and habitat for the Murray cod larvae thereby improving their chances of survival
- trigger a golden perch spawning event throughout the length of the lower Darling and
- support dispersal of juvenile fish from the lakes into the main river channel downstream of the Menindee main weir.
The timing of this increased flow was important to continue supporting Murray cod larvae and to maintain the positive outcomes achieved.
Autumn rainfall in the northern basin has provided an unexpected, but very welcome, opportunity for environmental water to continue supporting the native fish population of the lower Darling/Baaka.
An extra 200 megalitres of water for the environment will increase flow rates at Weir 32 to 500 megalitres a day throughout May and June. This elevated winter flow aims to support young of year Murray cod and golden perch that were spawned during the spring environmental flow by providing additional habitat and food.
Environmental water holders are mindful of balancing use of environmental water in the lower Darling/Baaka and keeping water in the lakes, including lakes Menindee and Cawndilla, over coming months to support ecological outcomes there as well. Waterbirds are expected to benefit from lakebed inundation and resulting productivity ‘booms’. Inundated lakes also create abundant food and nursery habitat for many native fish like Golden perch juveniles currently in the lakes, larvae that may drift down from the north and other aquatic organisms.
Careful planning and collaboration with NSW state agencies has made the Lower Darling/Baaka Flow possible.
Media releases on the Flow are available:
- Autumn top-up for young fish in the lower Darling/Baaka
- Lower Darling/Baaka flows to be boosted this spring to help native fish bounce back
- Murray cod are breeding in the Baaka!
Updates on the flow will also be published as they become available.
For more information, please contact our Local Engagement Officer: Richard Mintern – Mildura 0437 218 649