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River Murray Channel

Watering events 2016-17

Through coordinating environmental water delivery across the Southern Basin, consideration is given to outcomes that can be achieved by water en route to key sites. This year, water returning from the wetlands of Barmah-Millewa Forest, Hattah Lakes and Chowilla provided carbon and other nutrients back to the river. These contributions are important in sustaining ecological processes throughout the system. Also, the provision of environmental water in the lower Darling River allowed large numbers of golden perch to move into the River Murray. 

Torrumbarry Weir on the Murray River.

Ecological objectives

There are 2 high-level ecological objectives for the River Murray Channel, aimed at protecting and restorating ecosystem functions. The objectives address connectivity, carbon and nutrient cycling and wetting and drying cycles. 

Environmental works

Over the past 100 years, populations of native fish species in Murray–Darling Basin have suffered serious decline in both distribution and abundance.

Most species of native fish in the River Murray need to migrate as part of their life cycle. Some, like the congolli, move between the Coorong and the river. Others, like the silver perch, move upstream within the river to reproduce. Since European settlement, the construction of weirs along the river and the barrages between the Lower Lakes and the Coorong have limited or prevented these fish movements.

To help address these barriers, in 2014 the Murray–Darling Basin Authority completed the Sea-to-Hume fishway program. It provides passage to fish between the Murray Mouth and Hume dam, a distance of 2,225 km. The fishways are helping to increase population and distribution of native fish — including large species like Murray cod and golden perch and smaller species like Australian smelt.

 

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