Skip to content
   
 

The natural watering regimes of wetlands throughout the broader Loddon system have been substantially modified by the construction of levees and channels across the floodplain and by the construction and operation of reservoirs and weirs along the Loddon River. Water is delivered to the Boort wetlands through Loddon Valley Irrigation Area infrastructure.

The availability of water for the environment for the Boort wetlands is closely linked to water available for the Loddon River system. The ability to deliver water for the environment to the wetlands is sometimes limited by channel capacity constraints. The VEWH and North Central CMA work with the storage manager (Goulburn-Murray Water) to best meet environmental objectives within capacity constraints.

Traditional Owners
Storage manager
Environmental water holder

Environmental watering objectives in the Boort wetlands

icon-objectives-fish
Increase the population of large and small- bodied fish species
Frog icon
Increase the diversity and population of native frogs including by enhancing breeding opportunities
Maintain the population of freshwater turtles, in particular Murray River turtles
Plant icon
Rehabilitate and increase the extent of emergent and aquatic vegetation (aquatic herblands, tall marsh), intermittent swampy woodland and riverine chenopod woodland

Maintain the health and restore the distribution of river red gums and associated understorey species

Maintain the extent and restore the health of black box vegetation
bird icon
Support a high diversity of wetland birds by enhancing feeding and breeding conditions

Environmental values

The Boort wetlands provide habitat for a range of plant and animal species. At Lake Yando, 12 rare plant species have been recorded including the jerry-jerry and water nymph. Bird species recorded at Lake Boort, Lake Leaghur and Lake Meran include the white-bellied sea eagle, Latham’s snipe and eastern great egret. Little Lake Meran is a swampy woodland with black box trees on the highest wet margins and river red gums fringing the waterline.

Traditional Owner cultural values and uses

In planning for environmental flows in the Boort wetlands, North Central CMA has worked with Barapa Barapa and Wemba Wamba Traditional Owners and Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation to identify opportunities to engage on environmental water planning and delivery, now and in future.

The wetlands and surrounding land in the Boort region are rich in cultural heritage, with sites and artefacts of cultural practices present throughout the landscape. The rivers and floodplains are valued as food and fibre sources and contain many sites of significance (such as camp sites and meeting places). Environmental watering supports values such as native fish, waterbirds and turtles, and promotes the growth of culturally important plants that provide food, medicine and weaving materials. The presence of water itself can be a cultural value, as well as the quality of the water, as healthy water promotes a healthy Country.

The Dja Dja Wurrung Country Plan 2014-2034 describes their aspirations around the management of rivers and waterways and articulates Dja Dja Wurrung peoples’ support for the reinstatement of environmental flows as an overall objective for the management of water on Country.

Increasing the involvement of Traditional Owners in environmental water planning and management, and ultimately providing opportunities to progress towards self-determination within and beyond the environmental watering program, is a core commitment of the VEWH and its agency partners. This is reinforced by a range of legislation and policy commitments (for example the Water Act 1989, the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework, Water for Victoria (2016)) and, in some cases, agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010. Where Traditional Owners are more deeply involved in the planning and/or delivery of environmental flows for a particular site, their contribution is acknowledged in Table 5.7.3 with an icon. The use of this icon is not intended to indicate that these activities are meeting all the needs of Traditional Owners but is incorporated in the spirit of valuing that contribution, and indicating progress towards this objective.

Traditional owners

Watering planned and/or delivered in partnership with Traditional Owners to support cultural values and uses

The Dja Dja Wurrung clan (family group) the Yung Balug are preparing a water management plan for Lake Boort, the connected wetland Lake Lyndger and the Kinypanial Creek (a branch of the Loddon River), as part of the larger Djandak, Gatjin and Wi (Land, Water and Fire) Healthy Country Planning project which they are conducting with the support of Djandak, the commercial arm of Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. North Central CMA has committed to asking the Yung Balug family group for informed consent for the watering actions proposed for Boort in 2021-22 while moving towards self-determined management in the long term.

A key priority for Barapa Barapa and Wemba Wamba Traditional Owners in the Boort and central Murray region wetlands is maintaining or improving the condition of wetland vegetation health. North Central CMA and Barapa Barapa Traditional Owners are collaborating to deliver the DELWP-funded Decision Support Tool (DST) project which focuses on McDonalds Swamp (central Murray wetlands, see section 5.2.3), Lake Leaghur and Lake Yando. The project has tested the revegetation DST and also aims to incorporate cultural aspirations into revegetation outcomes. Barapa Barapa and Wemba Wamba Traditional Owners were involved in physical planting, plant selection and site selection for the project, and decisions around water for the environment at these wetlands have been able to support the DST project by delivering the watering requirements of the revegetation, resulting in a positive vegetation response and enabling monitoring to be completed by Barapa Barapa.

Social, recreational and economic values and uses

In planning the potential watering actions in Table 1, North Central CMA considered how environmental flows could support values and uses including:

  • water-based recreation (such as canoeing, fishing and kayaking)
  • riverside recreation and amenity (such as birdwatching, camping, duck hunting and walking)
  • community events and tourism (such as supporting Aboriginal cultural heritage and history-based tours)
  • socio-economic benefits (such as ecosystem services like groundwater recharge, flood mitigation, nutrient treatment and carbon storage).

Recent conditions

Rainfall in the Boort wetlands catchment was variable throughout 2020-21, but average rainfall and temperatures were experienced through most of the year. There were no natural flows into wetlands, with managed released required to achieve all environmental watering priorities. Inflows to major storages in autumn 2020 resulted in opening season allocations of 35 percent for high-reliability water shares in the Loddon and Goulburn systems (both systems influence available Water Holdings for the Boort wetlands), which was higher than in the previous year. Allocations increased regularly through spring and hit 100 percent in mid-November. No low-reliability water share allocation was issued in 2020-21.

Water for the environment at the Boort wetlands was managed in line with the average climate scenario in 2020-21. A partial fill was provided to Lake Yando in spring, followed by a top-up in summer/autumn to support observations of waterbird breeding. Top-ups were provided to Lake Meran in December, February and April to maintain the water level within a critical range that provides habitat for aquatic animals while enabling the growth of herbland vegetation on the wetland fringe. A planned spring fill of Lake Leaghur was deferred, due to channel upgrade works. A priming fill was delivered in autumn 2021 ahead of a planned fill in winter/spring 2021, which is a high priority to ensure the condition and composition of wetland plant communities at Lake Leaghur do not decline.

Scope of environmental watering

Table 1 Potential environmental watering actions and objectives for the Boort wetlands

Potential environmental watering action

Expected watering effects

Environmental objective

Lake Boort (partial fill in autumn)

Traditional owners
  • Prime the wetland for spring watering in 2022-23 by breaking the dormancy of aquatic vegetation propagules so they can grow and reproduce
  • Grow zooplankton and waterbug communities to provide winter feeding conditions for waterbirds and frogs
  • Reduce the volume of water required to fill the wetland in spring 2022-23
  • Support the growth of culturally significant plants on the wetland fringe including spiny flat sedge and river red gum
Frog iconPlant iconHeron icon

Lake Meran (fill in winter/ spring)

  • Wet soils around the wetland fringe that have been dry for the last two seasons, to encourage a boom in zooplankton and macroinvertebrate productivity enhancing food resources for waterbirds and turtles
  • Provide moisture to maintain mature trees in the intermittent swampy woodland on the wetland fringe
  • Provide deep, open water to maintain refuges for freshwater turtles (in particular Murray River turtles), support the feeding of deep-water foraging waterbirds and support the breeding of colonial nesting birds
Turtle iconPlant iconHeron icon

Lake Meran (top-ups, as required to maintain water level between 77.3 m Australian Height Datum [AHD] and 77.8 m AHD)

  • Increase the water depth to maintain an appropriate water temperature for aquatic animals and provide a refuge for freshwater turtles, waterbirds and fish
  • Provide dry areas (above 77.8 m AHD) to promote the growth and increase the extent of herbland vegetation around the wetland fringe
Fish iconFrog iconPlant iconHeron icon

Lake Leaghur (fill in winter/ spring)

Traditional owners
  • Increase water depth around the wetland fringe to promote the germination and recruitment of fringing vegetation (such as river red gums and cane grass)
  • Support the growth of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants
  • Provide increased habitat area and grow zooplankton and waterbug communities to provide food resources for frogs and waterbirds
Frog iconPlant iconHeron icon

Lake Leaghur (top-up, if triggered by waterbird breeding)

Traditional owners
  • Maintain shallow-water habitat under tree canopies to ensure adequate food resources for nesting waterbirds and their chicks
Heron icon

Engagement

Table 2 shows the partners and stakeholder organisations with which North Central CMA engaged when preparing their seasonal watering proposals.

Seasonal watering proposals are informed by longer-term regional catchment strategies, regional waterway strategies, environmental flow studies, water management plans and other studies. These incorporate a range of environmental, cultural, social and economic perspectives and longerterm integrated catchment and waterway management objectives. For further details, refer to the North Central Regional Catchment Strategy and North Central  Waterway Strategy.

Table 2 Partners and stakeholders engaged in developing the Boort wetlands seasonal watering proposal

Partner and stakeholder engagement
  • Birdlife Australia
  • BirdLife Australia
  • Common- wealth Environmental Water Office
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
  • Goulburn- Murray Water
  • Parks Victoria
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (land manager)
  • Gannawarra Shire Council
  • Campaspe Shire Council
  • Swan Hill Rural City Council
  • Loddon Shire Council
  • Individual landholders and community members
  • Field and Game Australia
  • Gateway to Gannawarra Visitor centre
  • Arthur Rylah Institute (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning)
  • Contracted ecologists
  • Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation
  • Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation
  • Barapa Barapa Traditional Owners
  • Wemba Wemba Traditional Owners

Page last updated: 22/01/21