Landholders and Murray Irrigation have partnered with the NSW Government to improve the health of local creeks in the southern Riverina.
The NSW Government is upgrading key water delivery points in the Murray Irrigation area between Deniliquin and Barham.
This will enhance opportunities to deliver water for the environment to creeks and provide access to habitat for native fish, support the food web that feeds native wildlife and improve local environmental health for local communities.
The project has been driven by local landholders along the Tuppal and Thule Creeks, supported by recreational fishers and endorsed by the Environmental Water Advisory Group (EWAG) for the Murray-Lower Darling.
DPIE (NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment) Acting Director South West Paula D’Santos said the projects would support habitat health and also provide an important economic benefit to local communities.
“Local contractors have been engaged to complete the upgrade to two delivery escapes on the Tuppal Creek and installation of a brand new structure”, Ms D’Santos said.
“These structures will increase the volume of water that can be delivered into the Tuppal Creek from 40 to 200 megalitres per day,” she said.
“The upgrades will allow for an increase in the amount of habitat available to wildlife, improved ecosystem health and occasional flushing flows that can improve the quality of water.
“The Tuppal Creek flows into the Edward River immediately upstream of the Deniliquin town water supply offtake, and improved water coming from it can be expected to benefit the town.
“In the Thule Creek, local contractors will upgrade an existing escape to increase the flow capacity from 30 to 130 megalitres per day.
“The Thule Creek is part of the western section of the ancient River Murray channel. It runs into the Wakool River, connecting the Murray and Wakool rivers via the floodplain.
“These works will increase flexibility for managing potential hypoxic blackwater events that may occur in other parts of the river system in the future”, Ms D’Santos said.
As part of the project, the NSW Government will now look at access crossing points for landholders along the Tuppal Creek system with a view to improving access during and after watering events.
Tuppal Creek landholder Greg Sandford said the project is an example of people having a good working relationship with the NSW Government.
“Having passionate staff and their ongoing involvement has been critical to the Tuppal Creek project’s success”, Mr Sandford said.
“The creek was in a bad state before the watering started seven years ago.
“The amount of birds that have returned and improvements to the trees since the water has returned has been fabulous. The upgrade provides an opportunity for even better outcomes,” he said.
The Tuppal and Thule Creeks provide ideal nursery and refuge habitat for a range of native animals, including native fish. The Tuppal Creek is lined by river red gums, some of which are hundreds of years old. It is also known habitat for Superb parrots.
The Thule Creek is a focal point for birdwatching, fishing and picnicking. Improvements to the creek habitat are likely to enhance these and the environmental values.
Long-term, improvements to creek health will provide benefits to local communities, recreational fishing and tourism in the region.
Funds from the sale of environmental water undertaken in 2018/19 for drought initiatives contributed to stage 1 of the Tuppal Creek project to facilitate a more effective and efficient use of environmental water.