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Hattah Lakes

Watering events 2016–17

Environmental water was used to extend natural inundation connecting Hattah Lakes and the River Murray. Approximately 31.5 GL came from the Victorian Environmental Water Holder. It provided additional benefits of habitat and food resources for native fish, and supported successful waterbird breeding and the ongoing re-establishment of wetland-dependent vegetation.

Site managers are continuing to monitor the outcomes of this watering event. Information will be published when it becomes available.

Lake Hattah.

Ecological objectives

There are 4 high-level ecological objectives for the Hattah Lakes:

  • restore its wetlands and floodplain communities to health to maintain the  ecological character of the Ramsar site
  • maintain high-quality native fish habitat in its wetlands and support successful native fish breeding events  
  • provide feeding and breeding habitat for a range of waterbird species
  • provide conditions for successful breeding of colonial nesting waterbirds at least twice every 10 years.

Environmental works

The $32 million package of works (a permanent pumping station, levee banks and a three flow regulators) built at Hattah lakes will allow us to return a more natural water regime to more than 6,000 ha of River Murray floodplain. The infrastructure will be used to deliver water to fill the lakes every 2 to 3 years, with more extensive watering to reach the floodplain every 8 to 10 years, subject to natural cues and water availability. About half the water used in the more extensive managed watering events can be returned to the River Murray by opening flow regulators.

The Mallee Catchment Management Authority coordinated the Hattah Lakes environmental works project, on behalf of the Victorian Government, Murray–Darling Basin Authority and the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries, and in partnership with Parks Victoria. Construction works were undertaken by Goulburn–Murray Water. Local communities were also consulted and involved.

Water Year Volume (GL)* Outcomes
2015-16 6.8 Golden perch returning from lakes back to River Murray.
2014–15 76.2 Watering of red gum and black box, fish and waterbird breeding,
2013–14 67.3

Successful first commissioning of environmental water management structures

Watering of river red gums, benefits for native fish and breeding of some native birds

2012–13 Nil

Not watered because of the construction of water management structures

2011–12 Nil

Not watered because of the construction of water management structures

2010–11 14

Watering of river red gums, including those at Lake Kramen which had not received water since 1993

Benefits for native fish (fly-specked hardyhead, Murray rainbowfish and carp gudgeon) and breeding of waterbirds (Eurasian coot and Grey teal)

2009–10 12.9

Reversal of the decline of fringing river red gums in Hattah Lakes and surrounding wetlands and extended duration of drought refuge for waterbirds, turtles and frogs


*All environmental water holders