Melbourne Water will deliver environmental water down the Yarra River to counter the impact of low flows over the past few months.
The release will see up to 4.5 billion litres of water replenish the river from 23 February to 13 March 2015. This water is part of the Yarra River’s annual allocation that is dedicated to maintaining the important environmental values in Melbourne’s iconic waterway.
Water will be released from the Upper Yarra and Maroondah Reservoirs to achieve the desired flow rates along the river and mimic its natural process. Water will also be delivered to the river from the Yarra-Silvan Conduit.
The operation of the Yering pump station will also be altered during this process to maximise natural flows.
Environmental water releases are designed to flush fine sediment and organic material from the river bed, maintain habitat for bugs and fish life, support native vegetation and improve water quality.
This release is the first of the summer, with further releases likely to take place throughout the year.
The release will benefit the river as Melbourne’s waterways have experienced low flows over the summer due to prolonged periods of dry weather. The main objective of this environmental water release is to improve water quality and scour sediment that has accumulated in waterways during the recent low flows.
This will improve the availability and quality of habitat for the river’s many aquatic inhabitants, including the regionally significant River Blackfish, Macquarie Perch and the platypus.
During this release, river levels in the target area may be up to 20-90 cm higher, which is within the river’s usual level of variance. Detailed planning and close monitoring of water levels is undertaken during the release period.
Melbourne Water is working with the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) and other stakeholders in relation to this release.
The VEWH prioritised this water release as part of its Seasonal Watering Plan 2014-15, which aims to improve river and wetland health across the State.