Recent rains give rivers much needed boost

Recent rainfall across Gippsland is giving wetlands and rivers a much-needed drink after several dry winters.  

According to West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority’s Environmental Water Resource Officer, Dr Stephanie Suter, the recent rainfall in the catchments has meant more water in many river systems, including the Thomson, Latrobe, Macalister and Avon rivers. 

Dams and weirs have changed the natural flow regime of many rivers,” explained Dr Suter.  

“This means that in these river systems that we call ‘regulated’, the natural flow of rivers has seen a ‘seasonal switch.’” 

“Whereas usually they would experience a high flow in winter and spring, and lower flows in summer and autumn this has switched because human demand is higher in summer and lower in winter and spring when dams are filling up. 

“We use water for the environment to mimic the more natural flow of rivers and to trigger natural processes like fish migration and the wetting of vegetation on the banks of rivers, but thanks to this recent rainfall we will be able to save water for the environment to be used later in the year.” 

Dr Suter said the Thomson River, which gets most of its natural flow from the Aberfeldy River, is flowing well. 

“It’s particularly pleasing to see flows going through the Thomson River Fishway, which will help migratory fish.” 

Currently, the Macalister River is receiving high flows after a combined wet start to the year and storage manager, SRW releasing water from Lake Glenmaggie to provide space in the dam. 

“This is great news for our wetlands on the lower Latrobe River – which receives water from the Thomson, Latrobe, and Macalister rivers,” continued Dr Suter. 

“Freshwater is inundating Sale Common, Dowd and Heart morasses. This will provide habitat for plants, animals, birds, and other aquatic bugs and critters too.  

“The Heyfield Wetlands which received their first water for the environment release last year are currently full to the brim, which will put them in a great position for the next few months,” said Dr Suter. 

For more information about water for the environment, please go to wgcma.vic.gov.au.   

Reflections at Heyfield Wetlands