Maintaining the Murray–Darling Basin’s rivers and wetlands through dry conditions will be a main priority for watering in 2018-19.
Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) Acting General Manager Science and Evaluation, Dr Matt Coleman, says water managers will aim to bank the progress made in 2017-18, improving conditions for native species at key sites.
“This year we are planning in anticipation of the northern Basin to be dry, with moderate conditions for the southern Basin, so environmental watering will need to be tailored to meet different demands.
“In the drier catchments, we will encourage water managers to focus on in-channel events, floodplains close to the main rivers, providing drought refuges for native species, and supporting critical habitats such as wetlands for birds.
“In the catchments that are wetter, we can do a bit more by building on progress from the past two seasons. This means in years to come rivers and floodplains will be better prepared to survive drier times and can also support breeding and growth.
“The environmental watering priorities have been released each year for the past six years as part of the MDBA’s commitment to transparency. It provides a common road map to help water holders and managers to plan cooperative and collaborative watering events.
“It’s important to remember in dry times that environmental water holders, like irrigators, manage water entitlements with annual allocations – and just like any other water holder, they are subject to allocation restrictions.”
Specific priorities for 2018-19 include:
- Delivering flows in the north with particular attention to the Barwon–Darling to reduce cease-to-flow events and benefit native fish.
- Supporting migratory shorebird populations in the Coorong and other important sites.
The priorities can be found at https://www.mdba.gov.au/publications/mdba-reports/basin-annual-environmental-watering-priorities