A range of options to support native fish and improve the health of the Macintyre and Lower Balonne rivers have been detailed in the newly released Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) Water Management Plan for 2021-22.
The comprehensive document outlines water planning for the whole of the Murray-Darling Basin, including the Darling Downs and the very north of New South Wales, Condamine, Warrego and Balonne systems.
The Plan is the result of months of working with local communities, First Nations, scientists and water managers to prioritise sites and carefully plan where water for the environment might best be delivered in the year ahead.
Interim Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, Hilton Taylor, said local people know their rivers best.
“Local knowledge is key to getting the best possible results for the environment and communities.”
“Even with the recent wet conditions, water for the environment still plays an important role in helping to keep rivers and wetlands healthy in the Murray- Darling Basin.
“Last year during the drought, water for the environment had a critical role in providing flows in rivers that were drying out and keeping native fish alive. With more water in the system, our focus changes.
“Our monitoring is showing native fish populations are starting to bounce back from the drought with successful breeding and growing populations across the northern Basin.
“The wetter conditions present both opportunities and risks. We will avoid delivering water where it will exacerbate third-party impacts from any flooding. We are also prepared to help mitigate risks, such as providing refuge habitat for wildlife if natural flooding results in low-oxygen blackwater events”, Mr Taylor said.
CEWO Local Engagement Sally Dickinson, who is based in Goondiwindi, said that the years of severe drought have had an impact not only on rural communities but on rivers and creeks as well.
“Like our towns in the Border region, the rivers and the plants and animals they support are still very much in a recovery phase.
“Water for the environment literally has a flow-on effect with the additional water creating healthy habitats for native fish, waterbirds, platypus and other iconic native animals.
“Our rivers play an important role in the life of Border towns, especially fishing, boating and swimming as well as tourism opportunities,” she said.
For further information about the plan please contact the CEWO Local Engagement Officer Sally Dickinson on M: 0448 759 650.
The Water Management Plan for 2021-22 is available on the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office website at: https://www.environment.gov.au/water/cewo/publications/water-management- plan-2021-22