- Commonwealth environmental water use in the Murray-Darling Basin during wet conditions (PDF - 217.52 KB)
- Environmental water managers work in anticipation of, and around, whatever nature delivers. Like all water users, they must grapple with the challenge of determining the best way to protect and restore the rivers, floodplains and wetlands during the highly variable seasonal conditions of the Murray-Darling Basin.
- The rivers, wetlands and floodplains of the Murray-Darling Basin are now highly dependent on human intervention because it is a system that has long since been anything but natural. Today, river regulation created through man-made infrastructure has virtually eliminated the flow patterns that once occurred naturally, so we must use environmental water to reproduce them.
- During a series of wet years or successful watering events, demands (agriculture and environment) for water are low, while extended dry conditions commonly result in high demands.
- People living in the Basin know very well that nature delivers big in this part of the country, with widespread and occasionally persistent flooding across the landscape – this is something that environmental water cannot do because there’s simply not enough of it and even if there was, it would involve unacceptable impacts on farms, towns and infrastructure.
- The real value of environmental water during wet conditions lies in its ability to extend the duration of larger natural flows in order to restore the variability in flows that once existed around big floods. This variability is fundamental to most of the plants and animals in the Basin which depend on the wild fluctuations of the river system to thrive and survive.
In essence, nature does what environmental water cannot and environmental water does what nature cannot.
There are insufficient volumes of environmental water available anywhere in the system to replicate the types of high flows that occur naturally. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder would not agree to any scenario in which people, farms, towns and infrastructure would be adversely impacted.
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office can (and does) use environmental water to extend the duration of high natural flows in order to deliver better environmental outcomes (e.g. bird and fish breeding) but always and only if there are no detrimental impacts on people and property.
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder’s priority is to make the most of the water that is available to support Australia’s wetlands of international importance (Ramsar listed wetlands) and other sites that support nationally threatened and migratory species.
- Latest information about Commonwealth environmental water in Basin storages, allocations and carryover and water use
- Bureau Of Meteorology - Improving Water Information