Monitoring Evaluation and Research
Southern bell frog at Nap Nap swamp, November 2018. Photo: Damian Michael, Charles Sturt University
Murray-Darling rainbow fish (bottom) and silver perch (top). Photo: Jason Thiem, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Fisheries, Murrumbidgee MER Program
Monitoring and evaluating the use of water for the environment is helping to build knowledge about the best way to improve the health of the rivers and wetlands of the Basin, based on what works and what doesn’t work.
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) works with Basin states, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, scientists and the local community to build this knowledge. There are a number of programs currently underway in the Murrumbidgee catchment, including the CEWO’s Monitoring Evaluation and Research Program and Short Term Intervention Monitoring.
Some recent examples of learnings include:
- Breeding in many frog species, including the southern bell frog (EPBC Act vulnerable), is triggered by rising water levels in wetlands during the months of October and November.
- Environmental water has supported the establishment of aquatic vegetation communities in the mid-Murrumbidgee and Lowbidgee floodplains over 2014-20.
- Spawning and recruitment of native fish species, such as the golden perch, can occur from within the floodplain system, independent of a connection to the Murrumbidgee River. This was demonstrated during monitoring in 2018-19 and 2019-20 when golden perch were recorded spawning and recruiting in Tala Creek in response to environmental water deliveries in Yanga National Park. Monitoring is therefore providing evidence that floodplain creeks and connected systems (i.e. lakes and lagoons) are ideal habitat for native fish recruitment. Environmental flows from the river have also been shown to provide a source of fish larvae and juvenile fish onto the floodplain.
- Spawning of riverine fish in the Murrumbidgee River is closely linked to water temperatures. Monitoring to date has shown little evidence that discrete flow peaks in the mid-Murrumbidgee influence flow-cued spawners, such as golden and silver perch. This may be in part due to higher water flows in the mid-Murrumbidgee creating suitable conditions for spawning throughout the breeding season.
CEWO MER Program
The CEWO Monitoring, Evaluation and Research (MER) (Flow-MER) Program integrates and replaces monitoring and research activities under the Long-Term Intervention Monitoring (LTIM) and Environmental Water Knowledge and Research (EWKR) projects.
A detailed MER Plan has been developed for the Murrumbidgee river system which sets out the schedule of activities to be undertaken in the Murrumbidgee to June 2022.
Riverine zones in the Murrumbidgee Selected Area
Wetland zones in the Murrumbidgee Selected Area and locations of key wetlands
CEWO Short Term Intervention Monitoring
The CEWO has funded monitoring activities to evaluate the short-term (annual) environmental response of selected watering actions in the Murrumbidgee. Copies of the reports can be found in the table below.
Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Activities and Reports
|Link to report||Description||Date||Link to relevant program|
|Murrumbidgee River System - Category 3 waterbird breeding monitoring summary report July 2021||Report on responses of waterbirds to environmental watering actions in the 2020-2021.||2020-21||MER
|MER Murrumbidgee River System Reports 2014-20||2019-20 Murrumbidgee River System monitoring, evaluation and research summary and technical report||2014-20||MER
|Murrumbidgee MER Quarterly Outcomes Newsletters and Field Reports||Quarterly reports detailing recent monitoring activities, ecological observations and findings, and case studies.||2019-current||MER
|Native and invasive fish dispersal, spawning and trophic dynamics during a managed river-floodplain connection||Monitoring responses of fish and waterbirds to environmental water delivery in Yanga National Park in 2018-19.||2019||LTIM|
|Weir stratification and hypoxic water management – Murrumbidgee River 2019||Report on weir pool stratification and hypoxic water management event in the Lower Murrumbidgee River in early 2019. Includes recommendations to prevent and/or mitigate poor water quality in relation to weir pool stratification.||2019||STIM|
|Murrumbidgee MER Plan||Schedule of monitoring, evaluation and research activities to be undertaken in the Murrumbidgee River System June 2019 – June 2022||2019||MER
|LTIM Quarterly Reports||Quarterly reports on monitoring activities in the Murrumbidgee selected area can be found on the Charles Sturt University Institute for Land, Water and Society Murrumbidgee Reports page||2014‑19||LTIM|
|M & E Report 2014-18||Murrumbidgee River System monitoring and evaluation report||2014-18||LTIM|
|Waterbird, invertebrate and nutrient responses to environmental water in 2015-16 and 2016-17||Monitoring waterbirds, invertebrate and nutrient responses to environmental water delivery in the Lowbidgee floodplain||2015-17||STIM|
|LTIM Project Murrumbidgee River System evaluation report 2014-17||Murrumbidgee River System monitoring and evaluation report||2014-17||LTIM|
Murrumbidgee River System monitoring and evaluation report
|LTIM Program Murrumbidgee River system Selected Area, 2014-15 Synthesis report||Murrumbidgee River System monitoring and evaluation report||2014-15||LTIM|
|Murrumbidgee Selected Area Monitoring and Evaluation Plan||Schedule of on-ground monitoring and evaluation activities in the Murrumbidgee 2014-2019||2014||LTIM|
|Monitoring the effects of environmental flows on hypoxic blackwater in the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers||Monitoring the effects of environmental flows on hypoxic blackwater in the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers||2014||STIM|
|Monitoring the ecological response of Commonwealth environmental water delivered in 2013-14 to the Murrumbidgee River system Final Report||Monitoring the ecosystem responses to the delivery of environmental water in the Murrumbidgee System||2013-14||STIM|
|Monitoring the ecological response of Commonwealth environmental water delivered in 2012-13 to the Murrumbidgee river system - Final Report||Monitoring the ecosystem responses to the delivery of environmental water in the Murrumbidgee System||2012-13||STIM|
|Monitoring of ecosystem responses to a major natural flood in Autumn 2012||Monitoring the ecosystem responses to a major natural flood in Autumn 2012.||2012||STIM|
|Monitoring of ecosystem responses to the delivery of environmental water in the Murrumbidgee system - Report 2||Monitoring the ecosystem responses to the delivery of environmental water in the Murrumbidgee System – Report 2||2011||STIM|
|Ecosystem responses to environmental water||Monitoring the ecosystem responses to the delivery of environmental water in the Lower Murrumbidgee River and wetlands||2011-12||STIM|
|Tracking of Waterbird Movements and Habitat Choices (sites in Murrumbidgee have been utilised by some of the tracked waterbirds)||2014-2019||EWKR|
Monitoring of environmental watering in the Murrumbidgee River - early results (2012)
Scientists studying ecological responses to environmental watering in the Murrumbidgee River have released a report on their early findings.
The research, supported by Commonwealth Environmental Water, is led by Dr Skye Wassens from Charles Sturt University.
In this interview, Dr Wassens explains how connectivity supports fish breeding and can reduce the risk of blackwater events.
Monitoring of environmental watering in Murrumbidgee (2011)
Dr Skye Wassens and her team from Charles Sturt University are monitoring ecosystem responses to environmental water into the Murrumbidgee River.