The Murray–Darling Basin Authority’s (MDBA) environmental watering outlook for 2018-19 anticipates a range of conditions across the Basin with most catchments currently expected to experience dry to very dry conditions while some will be moderate to wet.
An expected drying trend overall means water managers will need to be prepared to change the focus of delivering water for the environment in 2018-19.
MDBA Executive Director Partnerships, Carl Binning, said water managers in the Basin would continue to build on the watering priorities delivered in 2017-2018.
“We saw great outcomes across the Basin in 2017-18 from planned watering events which built on the boom created from the very wet conditions in 2016,” Mr Binning said.
“Wetlands in the Murrumbidgee were reconnected to the river, Moira grass in the Barmah-Millewa Forest improved, and flows were subsequently used to connect to important wetland habitats downstream. Wetland vegetation and fish movement in the Macquarie River also benefited from additional flows.
“In the Lachlan, water sent through the anabranches helped to stabilise water levels for Murray cod nesting. The Border Rivers also saw extra water to support native fish during low flows, and base flows through the lower Darling also supported fish habitat.
“While we’ll have a similar focus to last year, our goals in different catchments will need to respond to whether it’s dry or wet.
“This year in the drier catchments we will focus on in-channel events and areas of the floodplains close to the main rivers so we can provide drought refuges and support critical habitats.
“In catchments that are wetter, we’ll look to cement the strong foundations of the past two seasons and continue to improve the condition of rivers and floodplains to support breeding and to make sure catchments are well prepared for inevitable drier times.”
The Basin environmental watering outlook is available online here.
The Basin-wide environmental watering priorities will also be released in June 2018.