Fresh flows to boost Yarra River health after hot spell


22/01/2014

The Yarra River will receive a fresh flow of water to improve the iconic river’s health and maintain habitat within the waterway after a hot dry January.

Over the next two weeks the summer fresh flow will provide around 2.5 billion litres of water to improve water quality, flush out sediment and support the habitat of plants and animals in the river.

Melbourne Water Waterways Manager, David Norman, said the flows were a way of enhancing river health and supporting the natural environment.

"We’ve seen a period of record-breaking hot, dry days this month and in conditions like that there is the potential for water quality to decline," said Mr Norman.

"Environmental flows allow us to mimic natural environmental processes by releasing fresh water into the system. Environmental flow releases are a vital part of healthy river management and ensure that even in challenging conditions Melbourne’s waterways thrive," said Mr Norman.

The fresh water from environmental releases also encourages vegetation growth along the banks leading to a healthier river ecosystem.

During summer, drier conditions can cause low levels of dissolved oxygen and higher water temperatures in many stretches of the river. Environmental flows improve these conditions and reconnect habitats that may have become isolated by low water levels.

The 2.5 billion litres is being released from the Upper Yarra catchment, and is part of Melbourne Water’s annual 17-billion litre allocation to enhance the health of the Yarra River.

Melbourne Water undertakes extensive analysis to ensure the water released does not exceed the natural variance range of the river.

Melbourne Water is working with the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) on this environmental release. The VEWH is the independent statutory body for holding and managing Victoria’s environmental water entitlements.