The vision for the Basin Plan is for strong and vibrant communities, productive and resilient industries and healthy and diverse ecosystems.

Five years on from establishing the Basin Plan in 2012, water has been recovered for the environment and we are starting to see the benefits.

This report card provides a summary of progress made in Victoria towards achieving the Basin Plan environmental outcomes.

It describes progress towards watering goals listed in Victoria’s Long–Term Watering Plans for fish, waterbirds and vegetation since 2012 including:

  • Water for the environment delivered to over 80 sites in Victoria
  • three Long-Term Watering Plans to guide environmental watering in Victoria completed
  • over 800 GL of water for the environment recovered (and have contracted to recover), representing 76 per cent of the total volume to be recovered in Victoria
  • four major works projects completed under the Living Murray initiative and nine new high quality projects planned that allow the watering of approximately 14,440 more hectares of floodplain

The report card compiles evidence from monitoring programs where environmental watering has occurred. Key highlights include:

Fish

Data collected since 2012 indicates Golden Perch numbers in the Goulburn River have increased by around 300 per cent between 2012 and 2017.  Silver Perch numbers in the Campaspe and Goulburn Rivers were at a record high in 2017.

Fish photographed underwater. Human arm reaching into water to touch fish mouth from a barely visible boat

Golden Perch. Image credit: Paul Thomas

Waterbirds

At Lake Cullen, up to 4,326 waterbirds (47 species) were recorded after watering. In 2017, nationally listed migratory Red Necked Stints were recorded at Hattah Lakes for the first time. Numbers of threatened Australasian Shovelers (ducks) have increased substantially since environmental watering from just four individuals recorded in 2014, to 220 recorded in 2017.

Great Egret standing in water surrounded by grass

Great Egret. Image credit - Keith Ward

Plants

Environmental watering in 2013 to 2015 led to a rapid expansion of the aquatic vegetation at Lake Elizabeth, increasing from 1ha of cover in 2013 to 65ha of cover in 2015. Where water has been delivered to the Murray River floodplains, Black Box and River Red Gum vegetation communities have healthier tree canopies and understorey vegetation, higher numbers of saplings and seedlings and more sustainable populations.

Close up of Hattah Lily

Hattah lily. Image credit: Shar Ramamurthy