Tracking the elusive bunyip bird

Have you seen a bunyip bird?

A new project, involving satellite technology will allow world-wide access to track Riverina bunyip birds.

The bunyip bird is formally known as an Australasian bittern, and is a globally endangered waterbird. It is said that the eerie booming call of the male bittern during breeding season is the origin of the Australian myth of the bunyip, the mythical creature which, according to legend lives in Australia’s billabongs, waterholes, swamps and riverbeds.

The Bitterns in Rice Project is a collaboration between the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia and Birdlife Australia, supported by a number of agencies. The group is embarking on a new project, Tracking bunyip birds, which will involve satellite tracking of seven Riverina bitterns.

Australasian Bittern Coleambally. Photo: M Herring.

Australasian bittern, Coleambally. Photo: M Herring.

Bittern numbers are so low that it is thought there are only about 2500 of them left in Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. However, there is hope for the species. A large number of bitterns have been discovered in the New South Wales Riverina’s rice crops. Through study, it has been found that the rice crops are the perfect breeding location for these secretive birds. So, now that the birds have been located a new question has arisen, where do they go when the crops are harvested? No one knows for sure.
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River Murray Ops Update – 26 September

Welcome to this week’s River Ops update.

MDBA total storage fell by 16 GL this week, with the active storage now 6,423 GL (76% capacity).

At Dartmouth Reservoir, higher releases are being made to transfer water to Lake Hume in order to meet downstream demands in coming months. If conditions remain dry, transfers of water from Dartmouth to Hume are likely to continue through to autumn. Releases from Dartmouth increased over the past week to 6,400 ML/day, and will target around 7,000 ML/day in the coming week. The storage volume decreased by 17 GL to 3,672 GL (95% capacity).

Inflows to Hume Reservoir averaged 10,700 ML/day this week, increasing the storage by 6 GL to 2,276 GL (76% capacity). Releases increased to 11,400 ML/day, before gradually decreasing to 7,000 ML/day in anticipation of reduced demand due to rainfall forecast on Wednesday 24 September.

At Lake Mulwala, diversions at the major irrigation offtakes reached 2,300 ML/day at Mulwala Canal and 1,500 ML/day at Yarrawonga Main Channel before easing later in the week. The release from Yarrawonga Weir increased from 6,500 ML/day to 10,000 ML/day (around channel capacity) in order to meet downstream demand, including the transfer of water to Lake Victoria.

In the Edward-Wakool system, flow through the Edward and Gulpa offtakes averaged around 1,400 ML/day and 350 ML/day respectively. On the Edward River, the flow downstream of Stevens Weir averaged around 600 ML/day. The Wakool River at Wakool-Barham Road is steady at 440 ML/day.

On the Goulburn River, the flow at McCoys Bridge is currently 1,350 ML/day and forecast to rise to around 3,000 ML/day in the coming week. The flow is currently above the normal minimum due to the delivery of environmental water destined for South Australia. Flows in the Goulburn are being varied for the benefit of local riparian vegetation.

River Murray, SA. Photo: MDBA.

River Murray, SA. Photo: MDBA.

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River Murray Ops Update – 19 September

Welcome to a jam-packed River Ops update.

Basin Plan Community update meetings

It’s been a very busy week. Basin Plan updates and discussions on the Basin-wide Environmental Watering Strategy continued in the Northern basin in conjunction with scheduled local stakeholder meetings.

We now have updated our Meetings in the Basin page to include summaries of feedback at the Southern Basin community meetings. To date we have published summaries from Goolwa, Murray Bridge, Renmark, Mildura and Shepparton. The Deniliquin and Griffith summaries are coming, keep an eye out as they will be published in the next few days.

Basin-wide Environmental Watering Strategy

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to get your submission in by Friday 26 September on the Basin-wide Environmental Watering Strategy. Comments provided will be considered in the preparation of the final strategy for release in November 2014.

17th International Riversymposium

Congratulations to the Lake Eyre Basin winning the 2014 Australian Riverprize and the River Rhine winning the 2014 Thiess International Riverprize.

This week saw over 420 delegates attend the 17th International Riversymposium. The MDBA presented on a range of topics, with fantastic audience attendance. MDBA’s Craig Knowles chaired a panel session on the Murray–Darling Basin. It was a great discussion, with a big thanks to our panellists:

  • Mr David Papps Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, Australian Government
  • Professor Ashvin Gosain, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
  • Professor Kate Auty, University of Melbourne
  • Adj. Professor Gary Jones, Chief Executive Officer eWater
  • Dr Jackie Schirmer, University of Canberra
Panel session at the Riversymposium. Photo: MDBA.

Panel session at the Riversymposium. Photo: MDBA.

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River Murray Ops Update – 12 September

Welcome to this week’s River ops update.

Basin Plan Community update meetings

A big thank you to everyone who came along to our community meetings and panel discussions during the week at Shepparton, Deniliquin and Griffith. There were great discussions had on a wide range of topics including temporary water trade, environmental watering and social and economic indicators. Lots of local input and great ideas shared.

Griffith community meeting. Photo: MDBA

Griffith community meeting. Photo: MDBA

River Operations

Dartmouth Reservoir reached 95% storage capacity (3,667 GL) this week. Releases, measured at Colemans, continued at the minimum flow rate of 500 ML/day but are likely to increase in the coming weeks as transfers from Dartmouth to Hume Reservoir begin. At Hume Reservoir storage capacity is currently 74% (2,223 GL) and releases have been reduced from over 8,000 to below 3,000 ML/day this week in response to rainfall and lower irrigation demand.

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River Murray Ops Update – 5 September

Welcome to this week’s River ops update with information about the Basin Plan community update meetings and summary of conditions over the past month.

Basin Plan Community update meetings

Thank you to everyone who came along to this week’s Basin Plan community update meetings and panel discussions at Goolwa, Murray Bridge, Renmark and Mildura.

Next week we will be at Shepparton, Deniliquin and Griffith. To register your interest or for further details see our Community meetings media release.

Goolwa Basin Plan community meeting.

Goolwa Basin Plan community meeting. Photo: MDBA.

River Operations

MDBA active storage decreased by 28 GL this week to 6,338 GL (75% capacity). This is slightly less than the long term average storage level for the end of August of 6470 GL.

At Dartmouth Reservoir, the storage volume increased by 8 GL to 3,655 GL (95% capacity). Releases for hydro-electricity generation ceased on the weekend. In response the flow, measured at Colemans, was reduced from 1,000 ML/day to 500 ML/day. At Hume Reservoir, the storage volume reduced by 32 GL to 2,205 GL (73% capacity). The release was reduced from 15,000 ML/day to 9,500 ML/day due to an ease in downstream demand following this week’s rain.

System planning indicates that transfers of water from Dartmouth to Hume Reservoir are likely to commence soon due to continuing dry conditions and the anticipated high demand for water along the River Murray System. An earlier start to transfers will lessen the likelihood of very high transfer rates during the coming summer and further details will be provided next week.
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River Murray Ops Update – 29 August

Community Updates

The community update meetings will be on next week in Goolwa, Renmark, Murray Bridge and Mildura. More information about the meeting times and locations is on our website.

Lake Albert, South Australia

Lake Albert, South Australia

River Operations

MDBA active storage reached a peak of 6,366 GL during the week and is currently 6,359 GL (75% capacity).

MDBA Storages as at 27 August

MDBA Storages as at 27 August

At Dartmouth Reservoir, the storage volume increased by 6 GL to 3,647 GL (95% capacity). Releases for hydro-electricity generation continued this week. The flow, measured at Colemans, reduced at the start of the week from 3,000 ML/day to 1,000 ML/day.

At Hume Reservoir, the storage reached a peak of 2,267 GL early in the week and is currently 2,237 GL (74% capacity). The release peaked at 15,800 ML/day during the week and is currently 15,000 ML/day.

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River Murray Ops Update- 22 August

Draft Basin-wide Environmental Watering Strategy

The MDBA released the Draft Basin-wide Environmental Watering Strategy this week. The Strategy is a key component of work under the Basin Plan. The Strategy is available for public comment from this week until the 26 September.

A series of community meetings being held in the southern basin in early September will provide an opportunity for people wanting to hear more about environmental watering and the draft strategy.

Phylands Swamp in the Gunbower Forest after Environmental watering

Phylands Swamp in the Gunbower Forest after Environmental watering

River Operations

At Dartmouth Reservoir, the storage volume decreased by 1 GL this week to 3,641 GL (94% capacity). This decrease was a result of modest inflows and increased releases at Colemans. The average minimum release required from Dartmouth Reservoir varies between 200 and 500 ML/day depending on storage levels. Release has been averaging 200 ML/day since 1 July 2014, however at the beginning of the week, release was increased to 3,000 ML/day for three days to meet water quality and environmental objectives in the Mitta Mitta River. This variation to the flow has resulted in the release now averaging around 400 ML/day since 1 July 2014. As releases were receding, AGL Hydro ordered water for electricity generation which has seen Colemans rise from 1,200 ML/day to 3,000 ML/day. Releases are expected to reduce over the coming week.

At the beginning of the week Hume Dam releases were at the minimum of 600 ML/day to conserve water in upper Murray storage. Release was increased on Sunday from the minimum – for the first time since 5 June 2014 – to 6,000 ML/day. The decision to increase the release was brought about by the recession of flows on the Kiewa and Ovens Rivers and the beginning of the irrigation season. Over much of winter, the Kiewa and Ovens Rivers have been meeting and exceeding downstream demands. Now that these rivers have receded they can supply only part of the downstream demands.

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