The Federal Government will provide 3.1 gigalitres of water to the internationally significant Hattah Lakes wetlands in Victoria, providing increased drought refuge for water birds and maintaining the health of River Red Gums.
The water will be released into Lake Yerang and Mournpall to complement 2.1GL to be delivered by the Victorian Government.
This is in addition to 1GL Victoria delivered in September.
Federal Water Minister, Senator Penny Wong, said the Government’s contribution was part of the Commonwealth’s environmental water holdings, purchased through the Government’s water buyback program for the Murray-Darling Basin.
"In this era of extended drought and climate change, we face monumental challenges in the Murray-Darling Basin," Senator Wong said.
"We have taken over Basin-wide planning and will put a new, lower, scientifically-based limit on water use in the Basin for the first time ever."
Victorian Environment Minister Gavin Jennings said the environmental water for Hattah Lakes would keep threatened species and communities alive.
"The lakes are not only an important ecological site, but have a cultural significance for the local Aboriginal community and are important for regional tourism," Mr Jennings said.
"This latest allocation of water will build on the Victorian Government’s environmental watering program protecting strategic sites during the drought."
Hattah Lakes is listed under the Ramsar convention as a site of international importance for migratory birds and supports a range of aquatic-dependent species listed under bilateral agreements and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999.
The lakes are important for maintaining the genetic and ecological diversity of the region because the floodplain complex supports a large variety and number of waterbirds and includes breeding habitat for many species.
The Hattah Lakes have previously received Commonwealth, Victorian, Living Murray and private donations of water aimed at avoiding irretrievable loss of River Red Gums and providing a drought refuge for water-dependent species.
It is anticipated that this watering will maintain, and perhaps improve, the health of the River Red Gums as well as improve the extent and diversity of wetland vegetation.
Other species listed under the EPBC Act could also benefit through maintenance of habitat and other wetland values.
The sites to receive water were selected by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) based on input by the Victorian Government and after receiving advice from the Environmental Water Scientific Advisory Committee.
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