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The WMPP replaced stock and domestic supply dams with tanks, and the open-channel distribution system with pipelines, to improve water efficiency. A portion of the water savings from the WMPP was converted to an environmental entitlement to improve the condition of the area’s flow-stressed rivers, creeks, and wetlands; the rest was used to create regional development opportunities and boost supply reliability for other users. The WMPP reduced the amount of open-water habitat in largely agricultural areas formerly supplied by the open-channel system, so a separate 1,000 ML environmental entitlement was created to water some of the wetlands that were previously supplied through the channel system. Fifty-two priority wetlands can receive water from this environmental entitlement.

Water for the environment can only be delivered to the wetlands when there is sufficient capacity in the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline system, which can be affected by demand from other pipeline customers. The North Central, Mallee and Wimmera CMAs work closely with GWMWater and land managers (including Parks Victoria, the Department of Energy, Environment, and Climate Action and private landowners) to take account of pipeline capacity constraints when ordering environmental deliveries to wetlands.

Traditional Owners
Storage manager
Environmental water holder

System map

Environmental watering objectives in the Wimmera-Mallee wetlands

Frog icon
Maintain populations of frogs
Maintain and increase the population of turtles
Maintain populations of turtles
Kangaroo icon
Provide watering holes for native animals and terrestrial birds across the landscape
Plant icon
Maintain the condition of aquatic and fringing plants, including lignum, river red gum and black box communities Improve the diversity of wetland vegetation communities
bird icon
Maintain populations of waterbirds and other native birds by providing resting, feeding and breeding habitat

Environmental values

There are many wetland types in the Wimmera-Mallee wetlands system, including freshwater meadows, open freshwater lakes, and freshwater marshes. This diversity provides various wetland habitats for plants and animals across the Wimmera-Mallee region. The wetlands also vary in size and support different vegetation communities. Some support native waterbird populations, including brolgas, egrets, blue-billed ducks, freckled ducks, Australian painted snipes, and glossy ibis. The vulnerable growling grass frog, turtles, and many other native animals may use the wetlands as drought refuges and drinking holes. Rare and vulnerable vegetation species (such as spiny lignum, ridged water-milfoil, chariot wheels, and cane grass) are also present in some wetlands.

Traditional Owner cultural values and uses

Spanning a broad geographic area, several Wimmera-Mallee wetlands show indications of the longstanding cultural heritage and importance of these sites to the Traditional Owners of the region, including but not limited to Barapa Barapa Traditional Owners and other Traditional Owner groups represented by the Barengi Gadjin Land Council and the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (trading as Djaara). Some sites have artefacts and scar trees recorded in or adjacent to them, and further cultural surveys could better inform the management of water for the environment at those sites.

The Barengi Gadjin Land Council is the Registered Aboriginal Party for a significant land area of the Wimmera-Mallee wetlands. The Barengi Gadjin Land Council represents the Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagalk peoples.

In recent years, the Barengi Gadjin Land Council Aboriginal Water Officers and the Wimmera CMA have undertaken monitoring at Sawpit Swamp Wildlife Reserve, Wal Wal Swamp Wildlife Reserve, Carapugna (Watchem Bushland Reserve) and Mutton Swamp Wildlife Reserve, helping to understand environmental flow deliveries and values at the sites.

The Barengi Gadjin Land Council and the North Central CMA have discussed opportunities for projects that facilitate reconnection with and healing of Country. Recent meetings have highlighted several areas where collaboration is possible including on-Country events and revegetation projects. In May 2022, the Barengi Gadjin Land Council and the North Central CMA undertook a cultural values assessment at Creswick Swamp. Cultural values identified at the site include river red gums and eastern grey kangaroos. Environmental water management at Creswick Swamp supports a local population of eastern grey kangaroos. Prints left in the mud nearby suggest regular visitation.

The Barengi Gadjin Land Council has discussed the significance of the wetlands and their aspiration to undertake work at these sites in future and provided the following statement to the Mallee CMA when discussing environmental watering:

“The Wimmera-Mallee is living cultural landscape and there is a lack of recorded data regarding the cultural values over many sections of the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline. Several highly significant places are outlined through our Country Plan, but like all places across our Country, the rivers, creeks, lakes, wetlands and swamps, and all other landscape features in this area are of high cultural significance. We wish to care for Country again through our traditional land management practices and revive and share the ancient narrative of this area. Mapping the cultural values of places along the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline will be essential in contributing to integrated catchment management.
“We are unable to identify places of particular cultural values and uses confidently until Aboriginal Water Assessment/ Cultural Heritage Surveys are systematically undertaken across Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline sites. All the swamps, wetlands and soaks of this area are of high cultural significance as they are linked to Traditional trading routes that extend in all directions. It is essential that all of these places are managed correctly and water quality and biodiversity are improved.”

Social, recreational and economic values and uses

In planning the potential environmental watering actions in Table 4.4.1, the Mallee, North Central and Wimmera CMAs considered how environmental flows could support values and uses, including:

  • water-based recreation (such as fishing, swimming and yabbying)
  • riverside recreation and amenity (such as birdwatching, duck and quail hunting, photography, camping, picnicking and walking)
  • community events and tourism (such as orienteering and citizen science, including collecting data about bird species and abundance, frog species and microbat recordings)

Scope of environmental watering

The term ‘environmental watering’ refers to the active delivery of held environmental water to support particular environmental objectives by altering the flow in a river or the water level in a wetland. While other terms are sometimes used to describe the delivery of environmental water, ‘environmental watering’ is deliberately used here and in seasonal watering statements to ensure consistency in the legal instruments that authorise the use of water for the environment in Victoria.

Table 4.4.1 describes the potential environmental watering actions in 2023-24, their expected watering effect (that is, the intended physical or biological effects of the watering action) and the longer-term environmental objectives they support. Each environmental objective relies on one or more potential environmental watering actions and their associated physical or biological effects.

Delivery of water for the environment to the Wimmera-Mallee wetlands is impacted by a range of different constraints associated with delivery infrastructure, surrounding private land, and competing demands on pipeline capacity. This means most sites don’t have a target wetting and drying cycle which shapes planning for most other wetlands in this plan. Instead, the expected watering effects outlined here describe the overall outcomes expected from watering multiple wetlands across each CMA region during 2023-24.

Some sites have a deep central dam that can provide a near-permanent water source for aquatic vegetation, frogs, waterbirds, and turtles, as well as shallow marsh or floodplain woodland areas that are inundated when the dam overtops. In some circumstances, water for the environment may be used to overtop the central dams to support wetland vegetation and create additional foraging opportunities in the surrounding wetland/floodplain habitats.

Table 1 Potential environmental watering actions, expected watering effects and associated environmental objectives for the Wimmera-Mallee wetlands

Potential environmental watering

Expected watering effects

Environmental objectives
Mallee wetlands

Barbers Swamp

  • Stimulate the growth of aquatic and fringing vegetation and allow the plants, including ridged water-milfoil, black box and spiny lignum, to complete their life cycles
  • Stimulate the growth of aquatic and fringing vegetation and allow the plants, including ridged water-milfoil, black box and spiny lignum, to complete their life cycles
Plant icon Heron iconKangaroo iconTurtle iconKangaroo icon

Broom Tank

Bull Swamp


Clinton Shire Dam

Cokum Bushland Reserve


Coundons Wetland

Cronomby Tanks

D Smith Wetland

Goulds Reserve

Greens Wetland


J Ferrier Wetland

John Ampt

Kath Smith Dam

Lake Danaher Bushland Reserve

Mahoods Corner

Morton Plains Reserve

Newer Swamp

Pam Juergens Dam

Part of Gap Reserve

Paul Barclay


R Ferriers Dam

Rickard Glenys Dam

Roselyn Wetland

Shannons Wayside

Tchum Lake – dam (Tcham Lakes Lake Reserve)

Tchum Lake – wetland (Tcham Lakes Lake Reserve)

Uttiwillock Wetland

North Central wetlands

Chirrup Swamp

  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for frogs, waterbirds and turtles
  • Maintain varying depths of water to support aquatic and fringing plants’ life cycles
  • Maintain varying depths of water to support a variety of feeding habitats for waterbirds
  • Maintain water levels to prolong wetting and ensure successful waterbird breeding events, if they start
  • Wet black box and rare cane grass to allow plants to complete their life cycles and support juvenile plants
  • Maintain varying depths of water to support the life cycles of aquatic and fringing plants
Plant icon Heron iconFrog iconTurtle icon

Corack Lake

Creswick Swamp

Davis Dam

Falla Dam

Jeffcott Wildlife Reserve

Jesse Swamp

Wimmera wetlands


  • Provide a permanent water source for refuge and to support feeding and breeding opportunities for frogs, turtles, waterbirds and terrestrial species
  • Stimulate the growth of aquatic and fringing vegetation and allow the plants, including chariot wheels, sneezeweed, ridged water-milfoil and spiny lignum, to complete their life cycles
Plant icon Heron iconKangaroo iconHeron iconTurtle icon

Challambra Swamp

Crow Swamp

Fieldings Dam

Harcoans Swamp

Krong Swamp

Mutton Swamp

Opies Dam


Sawpit Swamp


Tarkedia Dam

Wal Wal Swamp

Page last updated: 01/12/22