Have your say on environmental water flows

Released 26/06/2018

Every five years the ACT Government reviews and revises the guidelines that set out how much extra water must be released into our waterways—and when—to keep our aquatic ecosystems healthy.

“These ‘environmental flows’ are an essential part of our work to keep ACT waterways healthy, which contributes to the health of the Murray–Darling Basin downstream,” the ACT Conservator, Ian Walker, said today.

“Environmental flows are so important that we consider them before we determine how much water is available for other uses, including urban water use and water entitlements. They are a critical part of water management in the ACT.

“The community is invited to comment on the latest draft of the Environmental Flow Guidelines until 17 August 2018.

“We need environmental flows because fish feed, breed, spawn and migrate in response to natural flow patterns. Flow patterns determine the shape of stream channels, how different stream habitats connect to each other and what plants and animals occur.

“Flows are naturally low during summer and autumn and much higher during winter and spring, so it’s important for environmental flows to mimic this pattern, particularly below our dams, which stop natural flows.

“The guidelines determine the water needed by a stream or river to stay healthy and fulfil important ecological attributes. For example, it’s important to maintain healthy populations of the threatened Macquarie Perch in the Cotter River so every two months, 150 megalitres are released each day for three days below Bendora and Corin dams.

“Environmental flows are provided in two ways in the ACT; either by releases or spills from our dams, or by restricting the volume of water that can be taken from catchment areas.

“The draft Environmental Flow Guidelines follow a review of the current guidelines by the Institute of Applied Ecology of the University of Canberra. They have been developed using the latest scientific data, research and analysis and take into account the need to consider future climate change scenarios and requirements under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan,” Mr Walker said.

The draft guidelines and review, and how to comment, are available on the Your Say website (www.yoursay.act.gov.au) until 17 August 2018.

- Statement ends -

Section: ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate | Media Releases

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