Boost for Heyfield community

The Heyfield Wetlands will receive its biggest inflow of water this August as part of a Water for the Environment initiative.

“We’re delighted that our proposal to the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) has been successful and that up to ten megalitres of water will be begin flowing into the Heyfield Wetlands in August,” said acting CEO of the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA), Mr Adam Dunn.

“The water will be from the Thomson system and will be a much-needed boost to the wetlands which have suffered in recent years due to a lack of rainfall,” added Mr Dunn.

“Further, this is an investment in the broader catchment as we’d hope to see benefits for land users around the Heyfield area

“We would expect this inflow to generate significant interest among the community and make the wetlands walk and broader environment an even more attractive visitor experience for tourists, hopefully driving money into the local economy,” concluded Mr Dunn.

The water will be delivered by West Gippsland CMA, in partnership with Southern Rural Water (SRW) and Gippsland Water and is expected to be enough to fill the two newest ponds in the eastern end of the Wetlands.

Manager Director of Southern Rural Water, Cameron FitzGerald, says that delivering water to produce a healthier environment around the wetlands is a project that SRW is delighted to be involved in.

“We know just how important the Heyfield Wetlands are to both the local community but also the positive impact it has on local farmland and on the quality of water used by farmers downstream, so while this is a slightly different end user for this water, we are excited to be able to work with the WGCMA, Gippsland Water and the local community to make this happen.”

Gippsland Water managing director Sarah Cumming said the organisation was thrilled to be able to contribute its skills and expertise to the project.

“We’re using our existing infrastructure and adapting it to deliver this water from the Thomson River to the wetlands,” Ms Cumming said.

“Protecting the local environment is an essential part of what we do. We’re proud to be partnering with West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority to make these important wetlands available for the community to enjoy again.”

Heyfield Wetlands Committee member Barry Donahoe is similarly thrilled that the rather parched wetlands will get a ‘drink’ in coming weeks.

“We’ve put in two significant ponds and built waterways with the idea of expanding the aquatic habitat for birds and animals. We’ve planted thousands and thousands of trees and shrubs to achieve this and the water coming in is just putting the icing on the cake for us.”

Fellow committee member Terry Stephenson is equally passionate about the impact of the wetlands on the Heyfield community.

“It’s like a kidney to the local area. It filters a lot of the water that comes off the town and from the farmland, filters it before it goes in the river. It’s an asset for the river and it’s an asset for the users of the river.”

Terry is particularly excited about the impact of the release of water for the environment in August both on the wetland and the broader community.

“It’ll make it a wetland once again instead of a dryland. This place does attract visitors from out of town. They come here, go for a walk. Go for a walk in town, visit the shops. It all adds up in terms of visitors and them spending money in town while they are here.”

“This is so important for us. Wetlands actually need to be dry for periods, but for them to act as a filter for stormwater and provide an environment for plants to flourish and the environment to breathe, they need water to support that goal. This is such a big deal for us, and we hope the wider Heyfield and Wellington community will join us in both celebrating this occasion over the next couple of months.”

Water will begin flowing into the wetlands in mid-August and is expected to remain within the wetlands for most of spring. Monitoring and assessment of the impact of the inflows will be carried out by WGCMA staff and wetland committee volunteers over the period with updates for the community being provided though the WGCMA website and social media channels.

Water for the environment is water that is set aside in upstream storages and released in a planned process to benefit the environment and provide shared benefits for the broader community.

The decision to release water for the environment is made by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder, an independent statutory body which is responsible for holding and managing the state’s Environmental water entitlements.

The flows are authorised by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder in line with its Seasonal Watering Plan 2019-20, which is available for download from http://vewh.vic.gov.au/watering-program/seasonal-watering-plan, with regular watering updates posted on the West Gippsland CMA website https://www.wgcma.vic.gov.au.

Published Friday July 12th 2019

Heyfield Wetlands Committee Members, Terry Stephenson, Wendy Rhodes, Sheree O'Neill and Barry Donahoe.