Lakes within the Hattah Lakes wetland system are currently experiencing a natural drying phase, which is the result of ongoing dry conditions across the region.
As the lakes dry, lower water levels can lead to rapid changes in water temperature and oxygen content and result in fish deaths. The majority of fish dying are carp.
This drying has been anticipated and is normal for ephemeral wetlands. Lake within the system would normally dry out periodically. When this occurs the remaining fish in the wetland die and become a food source for other native species.
These fish deaths are not a result of the Carp Herpes Virus.
As part of preparing for this drying phase, fish monitoring (including electro fishing and fyke netting) was undertaken earlier this year did not detect any large bodied native fish in Lake Hattah, meaning the fish deaths are predominately invasive carp. This drying phase will help eradicate carp in the lakes when they refill in the future.
Drying is important to wetlands in our region as it allows plants to germinate, grow and reproduce a seed bank in preparation for wetter conditions in the future
The drying of the lakes will consolidate sediments and allow vegetation to establish on the lakebed, which provides improved water quality, habitat and resources allowing native fish to flourish when water returns.
Lake Kramen nearby has received environmental water over the past few months to provide refuge habitat for birds and animals dependent on water for survival.
If you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us by leaving a message below or phoning us during business hours on 5051 4377.
Due to the ongoing drought conditions, environmental water will only be delivered to critical drought refuges during spring 2019-20.
Of the 730 kilometres of Murray River frontage and more than 900 wetlands in the Mallee CMA region, only 15 wetlands on the river floodplain will receive water during spring. It’s expected all watering will be completed by the start of summer.
We acknowledge negative comments about this watering program have appeared on social media sites. We understand people are facing difficult times with the current drought conditions, but it’s important to find the balance so both our community and environment can recover when the dry conditions ease.
Water is only being delivered to critical drought refuges – places that represent the uniqueness of the Mallee in terms of the important and threatened plants and animals that can be found there. If we can keep these refuges alive, they can recover and ‘bounce back’ when the current dry times ease.
When we have wet conditions, we water more wetlands and floodplain areas; when it is dry, we only water refuge areas.
Learning more about why environmental water is important is one way to understand why water for the environment is being delivered during the current dry conditions.
More information is available on our website and on the Victorian Environmental Water Holder website, but if you would like to chat to us, please contact us directly on 5051 4377 (during business hours).