Water for the Environment
As a water delivery company, we are intrinsically linked with our natural environment. We work collaboratively with our customers and government agencies to deliver water for the environment.
Why do we need water for the environment?
Natural sites like wetlands, ephemeral creeks, and rivers provide essential habitats for native plants, fish, and other wildlife.
Uninterrupted, these intrinsic natural systems are pillars in promoting a well-balanced ecosystem that benefits the environment and the landscape around them.
How do we deliver water for the environment?
Murray Irrigation has a very large network of channels that are strategically located to deliver targeted environmental water to a large number of valuable natural assets in our area of operations.
We estimate that there are over 2,000 private wetlands and around 2,000 km of ephemeral creeks and rivers in our footprint. We can deliver water straight to these rivers and creeks through at least 70 escape structures, along with hundreds of customer outlets that enable water delivery to wetlands on private property.
Currently, watering environmental assets is achieved through a delivery agreement between Murray Irrigation and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE). The agreement sets a direction to achieve significant environmental outcomes, whilst maintaining the financial viability of the company.
Water is strategically delivered via the Murray Irrigation network to help restore, maintain and improve rivers, creeks, and wetlands in our footprint, and provide habitat for fish, frogs, birds, and other wildlife.
Environmental Water Holders (EWH) are our second-largest customer and since 2001 over 205,000 megalitres of water have been delivered to wetlands, ephemeral creeks, and rivers including the Edward-Wakool.
Private Property Wetlands Watering Project (PPWWP)
Watering of private wetland sites makes up a large part of the water for environment program and to date has involved over 200 wetlands and several creek systems – the largest of its kind in Australia.
Flows are delivered to these sites via the Murray Irrigation network and private irrigation infrastructure on landholders’ property, who help manage flows to the private wetlands.
The voluntary program helps to improve the health of sites including supporting water-dependent plants and animals such as frogs and waterbirds. Many of these sites also provide habitat for threatened species including the southern bell frog.
Litoria raniformis (Southern Bell Frog)
The Tuppal Creek Restoration Project
The Tuppal Creek Restoration Project is another key project of the water for the environment program.
It has been established to improve the ecological state of the creek by improving the flow regime by using water delivered through Murray Irrigation’s network.
The Tuppal Creek is an ephemeral creek that spans 60 kilometers and, historically, was an anabranch that connected the Murray and Edward rivers.
The Tuppal Creek community, NSW DPIE and Murray Irrigation are working collaboratively on a long-term strategy to continue the restoration and rehabilitation of the creek.
In 2019, thanks to funding from NSW DPIE, Murray Irrigation engaged with local contractors to upgrade two escape structures and install a new escape. This infrastructure upgrade intended to increase the flow capacity into Tuppal Creek to allow carbon transfer within the creeks system and boost the aquatic food web that feeds native fish.
The second stage of the project involves upgrading existing low-level crossings to help restore a free-flowing stream, remove barriers to native fish passage, and maintain access for farming operations and emergency services.
The Mascotte Escape
We continually look for opportunities and ways to achieve better outcomes for our company, customers, and the environment.
The Mascotte Escape was identified to modernise under the Commonwealth government’s Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program (PIIOP), presenting an opportunity for multiple outcomes.
The upgrades aimed to increase the escape’s flow capacity from 120 ML per day to up to 300 ML per day into the Cockrans and Jimaringle creeks, which allows more efficient delivery of water for the environment. The project was funded and driven by DPIE and Murray Irrigation, with strong landholder support.
The Murray and Lower Darling Valley Annual Environmental Watering Plan
DPIE work collaboratively with partner agencies and the community to deliver water aimed to protect and improve the environmental values of the rivers and wetlands.
The Murray and Lower Darling Valley Annual Environmental Watering Plan outlines objectives and potential actions for the delivery of water for the environment in the NSW Murray and Lower Darling valleys for that coming water year.
The watering plan was developed by the DPIE and incorporates advice from the Murray Lower Darling Water Advisory Group. DPIE Manages environmental water in the Murray and Lower Darling valleys on behalf of the NSW Government, and assists with the planning and management of Commonwealth environmental water.