The River Murray, a ‘working river’, is regulated with dams, weirs and barrages to help ensure a reliable source of water for communities along the river. These structures, however, have disrupted natural flooding patterns which the floodplains and wetlands along the river rely on. To help restore the balance, The Living Murray program is funding the construction of major water management structures that will help deliver water at several icon sites along the River.
One of these major construction projects is happening at Hattah Lakes, near Mildura. Hattah Lakes is one of The Living Murray’s six icon sites and contains 12 Ramsar-listed wetlands.
Helping to restore environmental values
The aim for the Hattah Lakes icon site is to preserve and, where possible, restore healthy examples of the original wetland and floodplain communities. The engineering works will provide regulators and levee banks, which will be used to deliver and hold water at the site.
The engineering works aim to water the central lakes using natural river and wetland connections for small and medium floods in the River Murray. Pumps will be used to top up the lakes to a particular level that will reflect the level they would have filled to if the river was not regulated. This level will be determined using:
- historical, actual and modelled natural events
- the ecological aims at the time
- the volume of environmental water available.
After watering, water will return back to the River Murray via the natural waterways of Chalka Creek.
The engineering works will enable nearly 6,000 hectares of wetland and floodplain communities to be watered, including all 12 Ramsar-listed wetlands at the site.
Construction of the land-based works is expected to be completed in time for a spring watering this year, if there are high flows in the Murray. Environmental water will be sourced from a number of sources including The Living Murray, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and the Victorian Environmental Water Holder.
The pumps will be installed in summer to take advantage of low river levels.
To find out more, visit the MDBA website and the Mallee Catchment Management Authority’s info on Hattah Lakes.