Research flows in southern Basin rivers

2 DECEMBER 2013

CSU will share more than $1.4 million in federal government funding for the continued investigation of ecosystem responses to environmental watering in the Murrumbidgee and Edward-Wakool rivers in southern NSW.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) will share more than $1.4 million in federal government funding for the continued investigation of ecosystem responses to environmental watering in the Murrumbidgee and Edward-Wakool rivers in southern NSW.
 
Funded by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, the two new projects will help governments and managers deliver environmental water in a way that maximises environmental benefits to the Murray-Darling Basin. See more on the Commonwealth project here.
 
Associate Professor Robyn Watts is leading researchers from CSU's Institute for Land, Water and Society (ILWS), as well as partners from the NSW Department of Trade and Investment (Fisheries), Murray Catchment Management Authority, Monash University and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, in the monitoring and evaluation of the Edward-Wakool river system, north of the Murray River. The monitoring is focussing on native fish, frogs and shrimp, as well as water quality, river productivity and patterns of river bank inundation under different flow conditions.
 
 "The health of native fish in the Edward-Wakool river system is of particular interest to the local community. This project is monitoring the movement, spawning, recruitment, and changes in the size structure of the fish community in response to environmental watering, and this will help improve the management and delivery of environmental water," Professor Watts said.
 
"Landholders and community members play an important role in the project by providing access to sites on private property and assisting with the fish tagging and monitoring fish movement."
 
The monitoring in the Murrumbidgee system is led by Dr Skye Wassens and CSU researchers are joined by partners in NSW Department of Trade and Investment (Fisheries), Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and University of NSW.
 
Dr Wassens said that the monitoring is focused on the interrelated responses of various ecological processes and aquatic species to environmental watering in the Murrumbidgee River. These include water quality, nutrients and carbon, microscopic animals, aquatic and land-based plants, fish, frogs, turtles and waterbirds in the Murrumbidgee River and connected wetlands between Wagga Wagga and Balranald in southern NSW.
 
"The Murrumbidgee River and connected wetlands have enormous social and ecological value. The outcomes of the monitoring program help maximise the ecological benefits of environmental flows, while maintaining the economic and social values of the Murrumbidgee as a 'working' river, particularly for irrigated agriculture," Dr Wassens said.
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The two teams will continue to monitor and assess the ecological responses to environmental watering in these river systems until mid 2014.

The CSU-led teams have also been contracted to develop five-year monitoring plans for long-term intervention monitoring in the Murrumbidgee and Edward-Wakool systems, which will be funded until 2019 if successful.

Media contact:

Wes Ward, 0417 125 795

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