THE Victorian Environmental Water Holder's fourth seasonal watering plan outlines environmental watering planning for 18 catchments across Victoria.
The plan features priority environmental watering in 2014-15 for systems within the Western region which includes the Glenelg and Wimmera river systems as well as Wimmera-Mallee wetlands.
The water is made available under the Wimmera-Glenelg environmental entitlements.
Nationals' Member for Lowan, Hugh Delahunty said the seasonal watering plan is of fundamental importance to Victoria's environmental watering program and is the result of considerable collaboration and input from the partnerships which underpin the program.
"The Western Region section of the seasonal watering plan has been developed by the VEWH in collaboration with Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority (CMA), Wimmera CMA, Mallee CMA and North Central CMA, in consultation with communities, advisory groups and regional partners," he said.
In the Wimmera system, the fourth watering plan will primarily target the needs of native fish populations in the MacKenzie River, Wimmera River and Mt William and Burnt creeks.
Monitoring results of environmental watering in these rivers and creeks during the past 12 months have shown improvements in riparian vegetation as well as increases in the populations of platypuses and freshwater catfish.
For example, platypus monitoring in April this year found two new baby platypus in MacKenzie River for the first time in more than a decade.
There are also 13 Wimmera wetlands included in the watering plan.
Wimmera CMA Project and Planning Officer - Waterways, Greg Fletcher said water for the wetlands would improve habitat to help support high conservation significance animals such as growling grass frogs.
He said it should be the first time 12 of the 13 wetlands would receive an environmental allocation.
"Up until now we have only watered Sawpit Swamp south of Murtoa and this year up to 13 wetlands will receive water," he said.
Wimmera CMA chief executive, David Brennan said it was important to understand the amount of water available for environmental watering was subject to the total amount of water in storages and inflows.
"For example, so far this year rainfall across the catchment is very close to the long-term average, however, the amount of environmental water available is limited due to storage levels and low inflows" Mr Brennan said.
VEWH Chairperson, Denis Flett said he was excited about the next phase of environmental watering projects following the recent completion of several scientific studies.
"With the completion of the Wetlands Connections Project, we are now able to deliver environmental water to 13 wetlands across the Wimmera CMA region," he said.
The Seasonal Watering Plan 2014-15 is available for download from the VEWH website (www.vewh.vic.gov.au) or by contacting the VEWH on (03) 9637 8951.