Environmental watering is one of the key elements of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan.
Environmental watering is actively using water in the river system to maintain and improve the health of rivers and important wetlands. This supports the plants and animals that depend on these environments, as well as important natural processes that affect the health of the river, such as fish spawning.
Environmental watering aims to minimise some of the impacts of changes and modifications made to the broader Murray–Darling Basin river system over more than 100 years. This included changing when and how the rivers flow to better support towns and industries relying on the water, as well as manage the droughts and flooding rains that naturally occur.
Those changes have had some adverse impacts on the health of river system and the many plant and animal species that rely on it. This has affected the long-term sustainability of the river system. Keeping the system as healthy as possible through practices like environmental watering means the system will be stronger into the future to continue supporting the many communities and industries that rely on it.
Since 2009, environmental water has been delivered to many sites in the Murrumbidgee catchment and has targeted in–stream and wetland habitats to help them recover or maintain their health.
This has included maintaining refuge areas for many species like waterbirds, native fish and birds, as well as protecting some threatened animal species from possible extinction.
It has also helped with fish spawning and the growth of native fish species, improved water quality and low oxygen concentrations and helped to avoid further fish deaths in the Lowbidgee weir pools as a result of low flows and high temperature in the 2019 drought.