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The flow below Lake Eppalock is largely influenced by releases from storage and the operation of the Campaspe Weir and the Campaspe Siphon. The Campaspe’s major tributary (the Coliban River) flows through the three Coliban Water storages (the Upper Coliban, Lauriston and Malmsbury reservoirs) before reaching Lake Eppalock. Water for the environment is held and released from Lake Eppalock, with some limited ability to regulate flow further downstream at the Campaspe Weir.

Water for the environment is released from Lake Eppalock to support aquatic plants and animals in and along the Campaspe River. It can be supplemented by water for the environment delivered via the Waranga Western Channel at the Campaspe Siphon, which provides important flexibility to meeting reach 4 demands. Water for the environment is primarily used to improve the magnitude and variability of flows during winter and spring. Primary flow measurement points are at Barnadown (reach 2) and below the Campaspe Siphon (reach 4).

Goulburn-Murray Water transfers operational water from Lake Eppalock or through Waranga Western Channel to customers in the Murray River and to downstream storages (such as Lake Victoria). These inter-valley transfers (IVTs) usually occur in summer and autumn and, depending on the rate of delivery, can either support or compromise environmental flows objectives. High IVT flows delivered

at a time when the Campaspe River would naturally have a low flow may reduce the amount of suitable habitat for juvenile fish, which rely on protected, shallow areas of water near the edge of the river channel. Sustained high IVT flows in summer can also drown recruiting streamside vegetation. Storage managers and the North Central CMA have been working cooperatively to enhance the positive effects and limit the negative effects of IVTs on native plants and animals in the Campaspe River. For example, IVTs are sometimes delivered in a pattern that meets summer low flow and fresh requirements, thereby reducing demand on the environmental entitlement. IVTs have also been released in a pattern to support native fish migration from the Murray River into reach 4 of the Campaspe River, without affecting delivery to downstream users.

Traditional Owners
Environmental water holder

System map

Environmental watering objectives in the Campaspe River

Fish icon
Provide habitat to help protect and increase populations of native fish

Facilitate recolonisation by native fish species that have been presumed lost
Platypus icon
Protect the resident platypus population
Plant icon
Maintain adult river red gums and increase the recruitment of immature trees

Maintain the extent and increase the diversity of streamside vegetation

Increase the extent of in-stream aquatic plants
Insect icon
Increase the diversity and biomass of waterbugs
Water icon
Maintain water quality in deep pools and prevent stratification in summer

Reduce the risk of hypoxic blackwater events in summer

Environmental values

The Campaspe River below Lake Eppalock provides important habitat for several native fish species including Murray cod, silver perch, golden perch, Murray-Darling rainbowfish and flat-headed gudgeon. Murray-Darling rainbowfish were presumed lost from the system during the Millennium drought, but since 2011, they have been recorded at many sites on the Campaspe River and are now abundant below Elmore. Environmental flows help native fish migrate and disperse throughout the Campaspe system.

Platypus, rakali (water rats), turtles and frogs are also present along the length of the Campaspe River. The streamside vegetation zone is narrow and dominated by large, mature river red gum trees that support wildlife (such as the swift parrot and squirrel glider).

Traditional Owner cultural values and uses

In planning for environmental flows in the Campaspe River, North Central CMA has worked with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, Taungurung Land and Waters Council and Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation to discuss how cultural values and uses can be supported by environmental water and the importance of Traditional Owner involvement in environmental water management. These discussions included:

  • meetings between Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation’s Kapa Gatjin (water advisory) Group  and North Central CMA. Kapa Gatjin expressed their aspirations and environmental objectives for the Campaspe River. Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owners have highlighted the significance of native fish, turtles, medicine plants and pest control.
  • meetings between Taungurung Clan Aboriginal Corporation’s Baan Ganalina Advisory Group and North Central CMA. Baan Ganalina have highlighted the importance of native fauna and identified the importance of overstorey, mid-layer and aquatic vegetation in creating healthy habitat and preventing flows that might erode or damage cultural sites.
  • regular meetings between the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation Consultation group and Goulburn Broken, North East and North Central CMAs, where the three CMAs and the Yorta Yorta representatives discussed CMA activities on Country. Yorta Yorta Traditional Owners have raised concerns regarding the impacts of groundwater extraction on river flows and gold mining in the Campaspe Valley, and support flows that will mitigate the impacts of consumptive water delivery over summer and provide conditions to improve habitat for platypus breeding.

Social, recreational and economic values and uses

In planning the potential watering actions in Table 5.6.1, North Central CMA considered how environmental flows could support values and uses including:

  • water-based recreation (such as canoeing, kayaking, fishing and water sports)
  • riverside recreation and amenity (such as birdwatching, bushwalking, camping, cycling, duck hunting and picnicking)
  • community events and tourism (such as visitors travelling to canoe and kayak on the river)
  • socio-economic benefits (such as diversions for irrigation, domestic and stock uses, local and regional economic benefits from increased visitation, ecosystem services [such as carbon storage, groundwater recharge and water-quality regulation], lower salinity costs and blackwater and blue-green algae risks for landholders, and contributions to community enjoyment, health and recuperation).

If the timing or management of planned environmental flows may be modified to align with a community benefit, this is acknowledged in Table 5.6.1 with the following icon.

Camping icons

Watering planned to support peaks in visitation (e.g. camping or other public activities on long weekends or school holidays)

There are many places along the Campaspe River where visitors can camp. Aysons Reserve is a very popular camping site near Elmore, and it draws hundreds of campers during the autumn school holiday period. Where possible, delivery of summer/autumn freshes will be timed to improve river conditions for campers and for water- related activities during peak visitation periods (such as the March and April long weekends).

Recent conditions

Rainfall in the Campaspe River region in 2020-21 was close to the long-term average, with above-average rainfall and catchment inflows in August 2020, October 2020 and January 2021. Temperatures were also close to average overall: November was exceptionally hot, but December and January were cooler than average. Allocations against high-reliability water shares in the Campaspe system
were 32 percent at the start of 2020-21 and increased to 100 percent in October 2020.

Water for the environment was used to maintain low flow through winter and spring. There were two small natural freshes in July and August 2020, and unregulated flow during August and September was higher than the planned low flow. Water for the environment was used to deliver a fresh in September 2020. IVTs started in mid-November 2020 and kept flow above the recommended environmental flow throughout most of summer and autumn.

Deliveries of water for the environment in the Campaspe system in 2020-21 were managed in line with an average climate scenario. All planned watering actions for the year were largely met. Additional freshes to mitigate poor water quality were not required.

Scope of environmental planning

Table 1 Potential environmental watering actions and objectives for the Campaspe River

Potential environmental watering action

Expected watering effects

Environmental objectives

Winter spring low flow (50-200 ML/day during June to November)

  • Increase longitudinal connectivity to allow native fish to access new habitats
  • Facilitate long-distance movement by male platypus, especially in the August–October breeding season
  • Provide foraging opportunities across a wide range of habitats for female platypus to develop fat reserves before breeding
  • Maintain water quality by preventing pools from stratifying
  • Discourage terrestrial plants from colonising the lower sections of the riverbank and low benches in the channel
  • Maintain soil moisture in the riverbank to water established river red gums and woody shrubs
  • Help establish littoral vegetation
Fish iconPlatypus iconPlant iconWater drop icon

Winter/spring freshes (two freshes of 1,000- 1,800 ML/day for two to three days during June to November)

  • Flush accumulated leaf litter from the banks and low benches, to reduce the risk of blackwater events during high river flow in summer
  • Maintain soil moisture for established river red gum and woody shrubs (such as bottlebrush and tea tree)
  • Maintain connectivity to allow native fish movement and access new habitats, especially during the Murray cod nesting period
  • Encourage female platypus to select a nesting burrow higher up the bank, to reduce the risk of high flow later in the year flooding the burrow when juveniles are present
Fish iconPlatypus iconPlant iconWater drop icon

Summer/autumn low flow (10-50 ML/day during December to May)

  • Maintain slackwater habitats for zooplankton and nursery habitats for native fish
  • Maintain water depth and prevent stratification in deep pools in summer, to maintain habitat for native fish and platypus
  • Allow platypus to safely move between pools while foraging and ensure there is adequate food for lactating females
Fish iconPlatypus iconWater drop icon

Summer/autumn freshes (three freshes of 50-200 ML/day for one to three days during February to April)

Camping icon
  • Increase longitudinal connectivity to allow native fish to access new habitats
  • Wet submerged wood and flush fine silt and old biofilms to promote new biofilm growth and increase waterbug productivity for native fish and platypus
  • Facilitate the downstream dispersal of juvenile platypus in April/May to colonise other habitat areas
Fish iconPlatypus iconWater drop icon

Year-round fresh (trigger- based, 5-200 ML/day, as required)

Triggers

  • oxygen levels are below 5 mg/L
  • air temperatures are above 28°
  • there are high water temperatures and/or low river flow
  • De-stratify pools and improve water quality (increase oxygen levels) along the river in reach 4, ensuring there is adequate oxygen to support aquatic animals (such as native fish and platypus)
Water drop icon

Engagement

Table 2 shows the partners and stakeholder organisations the North Central CMA engaged in preparing the Campaspe system 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 the North Central Waterway Strategy.

Table 2 Partners and stakeholders engaged in developing the Campaspe system seasonal watering proposals

Partner and stakeholder engagement
  • Echuca Moama Landcare Group
  • Strathallan Family Landcare
  • Commonwealth Environmental Water Office
  • Goulburn- Murray Water
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
  • Game Man- agement Authority
  • Individual Landholders and community members
  • Local canoe club
  • Paddle Victoria
  • VRFish
  • Arthur Rylah Institute (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning)
  • Dja Dja Wurrung
  • Clans Aboriginal Corporation
  • Taungurung Land and Waters Council
  • Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation

Page last updated: 22/01/21