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05 August 2020
By DEAN LAWSON
Catchment leaders are hoping for late winter and early spring rain in the next few weeks to help give the Wimmera River system a much-needed drink.
Wimmera Catchment Management Authority chief executive David Brennan said the river would be starting to get ‘thirsty’ after relatively dry winter conditions.
He said the river system was in a healthy state but natural run-off from rain obviously played a crucial role in maintaining conditions.
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“Statistics show we’re having a bit of a dry period after a good break earlier in the year,” he said.
“A quick scan of water storages shows we’re at 31 percent of capacity, while at the same time last year we were at 39. As we know, it takes a fair bit of rain to wet up the catchment to generate run-off.”
Mr Brennan said rain would be an important factor in supplementing environmental water flows.
A flow-release schedule, designed to artificially water the system to allow the authority to manage waterway environmental health, started from the new financial year,” he said.
“For the delivery of our environmental quotas we’re certainly hoping for some good rain to appear on the horizon.
“Our indicative figures surrounding environmental water releases for the year ahead are very conservative and we’re relying on natural flows in the rivers and creeks to do much of the heavy lifting. This is because we simply don’t have an over-abundance of environmental water in the system.
“It is basically a month-by-month proposition for environmental flows at the moment. Technically, we have opened the new watering year and adapt environmental-flow planning to conditions and circumstances.”
Mr Brennan said managing a large-scale river and catchment system that was integral to the health and wellbeing of regional communities and the natural environment demanded regular monitoring.
“We make calculations, looking at things such as salinity levels in areas of the Wimmera River, which might prompt us into using environmental allocations earlier than we would have liked,” he said.
“It’s been getting dry and unless we get good rain in the next few weeks it won’t be looking good for natural flows.”
The Wimmera River system forms a massive arterial network and its headworks are the primary source of a vast regional water supply.
Long-time human influence in the region based on socio-economic needs and development has dramatically changed the system’s natural environment and left relatively few pristine areas.
But an environmentally sound system remains crucial for the prosperity for, geographically, about a third of Victoria.
The entire August 5, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!