Environmental Water Reserve PDF Print E-mail

Environmental Water Releases 2014

The Thomson, Latrobe and Macalister rivers will receive a boost this autumn when managed environmental water is released into each of the river systems. More information about 2014 releases.

Thomson River

Over the next ten years the Government aims to provide an average of 18,000 megalitres of additional environmental flows to improve the health of the Thomson River. This water is to be recovered through metropolitan water savings. The Government will ensure that improving environmental flows in the Thomson River will not reduce the current reliability of supply for irrigators.

The Thomson River has an environmental water reserve allocation of 10,000 megalitres (ML) guaranteed in the Victorian Government’s Our Water Our Future action plan during 2006/07. This environmental water reserve is the share of water set aside to protect and enhance the environmental values of the Thomson River and to ensure its future sustainability and the sustainability of associated activities which depend on it. The Environmental Water Reserve for the Thomson River is held as the Bulk Entitlement (Thomson River – Environment) Order 2005.

Management of the Environmental Water Reserve

The WGCMA as the Environmental Water Reserve Manager has worked closely with Melbourne Water, Southern Rural Water and the Department of Sustainability and Environment to develop an Environmental Operating Strategy and an Annual Watering Plan for the Thomson River.
As Managers of the Environmental Water Reserve the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority aims to restore river health and meet environmental objectives such as:

  • Provide an environmental flow regime to restore natural seasonal patterns of flow 
  • Protect existing high value areas, or areas in good condition 
  • Maintain/enhance native fish communities 
  • Rehabilitate native, instream and riparian vegetation communities 
  • Improve water quality 
  • Protect the physical structure of the waterway for flora and fauna habitat

Operational Activities

Baseline monitoring has been undertaken to determine the ecological condition of the Thomson River. The monitoring program includes targeted scientific monitoring to identify ecological responses to the flow regime.
The monitoring program consists of six assessment components:

  • Flow monitoring 
  • Native fish 
  • Water quality 
  • Macroinvertebrates 
  • Vegetation and physical form 
  • Photo point monitoring

It is important to note that many of the ecological objectives that the environmental releases are aiming to achieve are reliant on biological processes.  It is unlikely that a significant change in native fish and macroinvertebrate populations and the condition of riparian vegetation will be seen for at least ten years.  Shorter term changes in channel form will be monitored in response to the delivery of the high flow fresh above Cowwarr Weir.  A ten year monitoring program has been developed and monitoring will be progressive and responsive over time.

In light of this the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) E-water CRC and the WGCMA have invested considerable effort in developing a monitoring and evaluation program for the Thomson River. The Victorian Environmental Flows Monitoring and Assessment Program (VEFMAP) has been developed to assess the ecological outcomes of the delivery of environmental flows to eight priority rivers across Victoria, including the Thomson River. This mechanism that will be used by the West Gippsland CMA to report to the Department of Sustainability & Environment on the results of the environmental release monitoring. As resource manager for the Thomson basin the West Gippsland CMA is also required to report annually on all of the bulk entitlements held in the Thomson basin.

Key Links:

PDF_p Environmental Operating Strategy

Contact Details

WGCMA Environmental Water and River Health Officer
Ph. 1300 094 262


Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 May 2014 10:42