Improving outcomes

By Thomas Moir

The region’s catchment management authority assures it is taking steps to ensure river flows can improve outcomes in the Goulburn River, following concerns about bank and habitat damage from high summer flows being heard at a national conference last month.

The hope is that water for the environment will help ‘‘critical bank-stabilising plants along the lower Goulburn River’’ to ‘‘re-establish and grow’’.

The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority this week announced it would release water from the Goulburn weir for the environment from Monday to ‘‘top up’’ inter valley transfers.

The authority said the extra water would ensure river flows peak around 8500Ml/day — a river height of about 4m — next month.

This is well below minor flood level and ‘‘in the event of heavy rain the flow may be smaller or not go ahead,’’ the authority said.

The flow is anticipated to take about four days to reach McCoy’s Bridge from Shepparton. The authority argued the flow would benefit downstream wetlands and communities.

GBCMA chief executive Chris Norman said the flow would improve water quality and encourage plants in the Goulburn River and on the lower and mid-banks to grow and spread.

‘‘As well as helping the banks, (this) will provide food and shelter for wildlife, fish and water bugs during spring and summer.

‘‘After the great results we’ve seen in recent years in the Goulburn River, thanks to water for the environment, such as record numbers of silver perch recorded last year and significant increases in other threatened native fish, including trout cod, it’s important we maintain water quality, particularly if it stays dry ,’’ Mr Norman said

‘‘Good water quality reduces the cost of treating water for consumption by communities and is better for stock and crops, too.’’

At the recent Murray Darling Association National Conference, concerns were raised about what higher-than-usual water being delivered down the Goulburn River between January and May was doing to bank vegetation.

Greater Shepparton City Council moved a motion at the conference calling for an investigation into the environmental impacts of running commercial water down the Goulburn River during summer.

Water authorities have now been called on to ‘‘undertake a detailed and holistic review’’ into the issue.

The council’s motion argued that the river had been artificially held high in these summer months ‘‘due to the transfer of water to other irrigation areas following purchasing of this water ... destroying all the ground cover that had benefited from an environmental flow during spring 2017.’’