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What do low flows mean for our waterways?

North East residents may have been noticing low flow levels in creeks and tributaries in North East Victoria recently. North East Catchment Management Authority (North East CMA) understands that this may cause concern about the impact of these low water levels to waterway health.

The low flows currently occurring are as a result of Victoria experiencing very dry conditions in the last 10 months. The latest information from the Bureau of Meteorology suggests that an El Niño event, which has been influencing weather patterns, is now abating. Most climate models are suggesting a return to average/slightly wetter rainfall for April –June.

North East Catchment Management Authorities Executive Manager, NRM Delivery, Adam Dyde said that the low flows will have a temporary impact on water quality. This can also impact on fish species.

"As waterways experience long periods of low flows, the quality of the water also often declines," said Adam "Rivers and waterways are more likely to become warmer when water depths become shallow, especially in the hotter months"

Adam explained that in turn, this can reduce the amount of oxygen in the water which can become stressful to aquatic organisms such as fish.

"In these conditions, it is important that animals such as fish have areas of refuge that they can reside in," said Adam "This is why North East CMA instream habitat programs to create deeper pools, along with snags and rocks are important. Rocks and snags can create larger pools behind them during periods of higher flow. This in turn assists native species to survive in periods of low flow through providing refuge habitat."

Adam suggested that if the predictions are correct we will slowly see our waterways return to normal flow levels in the coming months.

If residents have any specific concerns regarding the health of a waterway in North East Victoria they are encouraged to contact North East CMA on 1300 216 513.
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