Environmental watering in the catchment in 2022-23
These Commonwealth environmental watering actions follow from the Water Management Plan 2022-23, having regard to Basin annual environmental watering priorities and the Basin-wide environmental watering strategy.
This page will be updated as decisions on water use in the Murrumbidgee for 2022-23 are made by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.
A summary of Commonwealth environmental water use in the Murrumbidgee is available at history.
For further information about Commonwealth environmental watering in the Murrumbidgee and the outcomes achieved, please refer to the Commonwealth environmental water Outcomes Reports and Annual Reports.
|Watering action||Status of Commonwealth action|
|Murrumbidgee catchment - Murrumbidgee River, creek systems, floodplains and wetlands (regulated water use)||Not commenced|
|Murrumbidgee catchment - Murrumbidgee River, creek systems, floodplains and wetlands (supplementary water use)||Not commenced|
Murrumbidgee catchment – Murrumbidgee River, creek systems, floodplains and wetlands (regulated water use)
Narwie Swamp, North Redbank. Photo: Erin Lenon, CEWO
November 2022: Not commenced
About the watering
Up to 234,000 ML of regulated Commonwealth environmental water has been approved for use in the Murrumbidgee catchment in 2022-23, subject to allocation availability. With wet conditions continuing and high allocations, the aim of Commonwealth environmental watering in 2022-23 is to continue to improve, and where possible recover, important wetland habitats and threatened species populations specifically by undertaking large system-scale actions to link the floodplain to the main river channel. In particular, for the mid-Murrumbidgee wetlands the purpose is to maintain and ensure their ecological capacity for recovery and remains a priority subject to available allocations.
Wetland habitats are being targeted across the Murrumbidgee catchment, with environmental water planned to be delivered to the mid-Murrumbidgee, Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, Lowbidgee, Junction wetlands and Yanco Creek system. This includes delivery of water to Ramsar listed Fivebough and Tuckerbil Wetlands in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area to maintain habitat condition to support threatened waterbird species and waterbirds listed under international migratory agreements.
A very high priority for Commonwealth water for the environment remains a managed low-level mid-Murrumbidgee wetlands reconnection action. Wetlands in this area are generally in poor condition due to lack of repeated inundation. Ideally, a low-level wetlands reconnection with the Murrumbidgee River is required annually to enable the recovery of wetlands and their aquatic ecosystems. Winter-spring and autumn flows in low-level mid-Murrumbidgee wetlands also contribute to downstream demands, including Yanco Creek, the Lowbidgee floodplain including the Junction Wetlands and the lower Murray (where ‘return flows’ are available under NSW “pre-requisite policy measures”). They also build resilience of the system to help sites to maintain condition and function in dry years and to help cope with climate change.
As in previous years, the use of Commonwealth environmental water will be adaptively managed throughout 2022-23 in response to changing water resource availability and environmental conditions and demands. If a decline in water quality of in-stream or wetland environments across the Murrumbidgee catchment occurs due to very wet conditions water for the environment will target protecting refuge habitat for aquatic animals, including for native fish, subject to available allocations.
Watering actions will be managed in cooperation with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) – Environment and Heritage Group, and WaterNSW. The outcomes from these watering actions will be monitored by NSW DPE and a consortium led by Charles Sturt University as part of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Program.
The planned watering actions are being made possible by the collaboration of a wide range of stakeholders including NSW DPE – Environment and Heritage Group, WaterNSW, NSW Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries, NSW DPE - Water, Riverina Local Land Services, Charles Sturt University, local environmental water advisory group, Traditional Owners, irrigation infrastructure organisations and landholders.
The Murrumbidgee Catchment has experienced very wet conditions and high unregulated flows so far this water year. Consequently, the high unregulated flows have been meeting the majority of environmental demands and inundating areas not possible by managed flows alone. Due to these high unregulated flows, no Commonwealth regulated water for the environment has been delivered, as of the end of October 2022. Water for the environment will be used to extend the duration of flows into wetlands, help mitigate potential low dissolved oxygen conditions or direct water to important sites that missed out later in the water year.
More information on planned water use can be found at: CEWO publications.
Murrumbidgee catchment – Murrumbidgee River, creek systems, floodplains and wetlands (supplementary water use)
November 2022: Not commenced
About the watering
Yanga wetlands after environmental watering. Photo: Matt Herring 2019
Australian little bittern chicks and eggs. Photo: Matt Herring 2019
Commonwealth supplementary environmental water has been made available for use in the Murrumbidgee catchment from 2019-20 through 2023-2). As part of this approval, up to 361,986 ML of Commonwealth supplementary environmental water has been made available for use in the Murrumbidgee catchment during 2022-23.
Of the approved volume, up to 340,000 ML of Commonwealth Lowbidgee supplementary water may be used in the lower Murrumbidgee (including Gayini Nimmie-Caira, Yanga National Park, North Redbank, the Fiddlers Creek system and the Western Lakes). The remaining volume (21,986 ML) may be used in the wetlands, creek systems and river channel across the Murrumbidgee catchment.
Subject to announced supplementary access, Commonwealth supplementary water will contribute to maintaining and improving the health of native vegetation, including river red gums, black box, lignum and aquatic plants; the provision of habitat for waterbirds, native fish, turtles and frogs; and providing reproduction and movement opportunities for native animals, including the threatened southern bell frog. Use will be based on environmental conditions and demands at the time of supplementary access and may include contributions to environmental watering actions that use other sources of environmental water such as regulated Commonwealth environmental water. Where possible, watering actions will assist in protecting naturally derived tributary inflows to achieve environmental watering objectives.
The Murrumbidgee Catchment has experienced very wet conditions and high unregulated flows so far this water year. Consequently, the high unregulated flows have been meeting the majority of environmental demands and inundating areas not possible by managed flows alone. Due to these high unregulated flows, no Commonwealth supplementary water for the environment has been delivered, as of the end of October 2022. Water for the environment will be used to extend the duration of flows into wetlands or direct water to important sites that missed out.
Murrumbidgee River. Photo: Keighley Sutherland