Water for the environment will be delivered into part of the upper Barwon River system over the coming weeks to help native fish communities recover following the driest four-year period on record. This water will come from Copeton Dam in the Gwydir and Pindari Dam in the Border Rivers.
Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, Jody Swirepik said recent hot dry conditions have placed stress on many rivers as well as the plants, animals and communities that depend on them.
‘We have been working with NSW agencies and we agree that now is the time to be proactive in supporting native fish like Murray cod whose resilience has been hit by the recent drought,’ Ms Swirepik said.
With the return of hot, dry weather to the northern Murray-Darling Basin in recent weeks, rivers such as the Barwon are drying back again. Good rainfall is expected in the coming months with the current La Nina conditions, however runoff into rivers may still be reduced due to the parched catchment and riverbeds soaking up much of the rain.
The native fish community in the Barwon River between Mungindi and Walgett is critical for much of the northern Basin. The Gwydir and Macintyre rivers are also home to an important native fish community. The releases will top up waterholes and improve oxygen levels, helping fish populations survive through the coming summer/autumn period.
The release of water for the environment will combine with releases for irrigation and other purposes currently underway in the Gwydir and Macintyre rivers. The release will also complement some localised flows from rain last week. Combining the releases means more water flowing further along the rivers, boosting the benefits to native fish communities all the way into the Barwon river.
The additional flows should ensure these rivers are well primed for any subsequent rainfall which would be required for the flows to push beyond Walgett and we all hope comes soon.
For more information on this flow visit: Northern Waterhole Top-up
- The flow event is called the Northern Waterhole Top-up.
- The Barwon River has ceased to flow for over two months.
- There have been 19 days over 35oC in November in Mungindi, on the Barwon River.
- Up to 6 gigalitres of Commonwealth environmental water will be released, up to 5.1 gigalitres from the Gwydir catchment, and up to 0.9 gigalitres from the Macintyre river.
- NSW has made arrangements to provide an additional 2 gigalitres from the Macintyre river.
Mungindi weir, December 2020. Photo: University of New England