Environmental waterEnvironmental water or ‘environmental flows’ is the water needed in a river, floodplain, wetland or estuary to maintain healthy, natural ecosystems. The way in which water flows in waterways is vital to maintaining its physical, chemical and biological health – and therefore, the plants, animals and communities that rely on it. The environmental flows required in a river system reflect the needs of animals and plants dependent on the river, its banks, floodplains and estuaries as well as the ecological processes that keep the river healthy.
- stimulate animals like native fish to feed and breed (for example, cod and yellowbelly fish need to be able to move on to floodplains to feed)
- trigger plants to seed or germinate (for example, river red gums need flooding for seeds to germinate)
- move carbon between rivers, floodplains and estuaries, an important process for food chains
- allow fish and plants to move about the river system and colonise new areas
- help restore groundwater supplies
- stabilise river banks through better vegetation growth, reducing erosion into the river
- flush out the salt along river banks and floodplains.