Murray Valley National Park – Millewa Forest Project

Reed beds in Millewa, Murray Valley National Park.

The Millewa Forest Project is part of Water Infrastructure NSW’s Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) program, which is part of the greater Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The SDLAM program puts measures in place to divert water using sustainable methods and infrastructure to ensure better environmental and community outcomes.

About the Millewa Forest Project

The Millewa Forest Project aims to improve the efficiency of environmental water delivery, enhance and improve ecological outcomes throughout Millewa Forest, which is located within the Murray Valley National Park.

Millewa Forest is home to several significant species and ecological communities, which rely on regular flows of water into their habitats to survive. The project is exploring a range of infrastructure options that will deliver water to these important habitats, whilst also helping to create conditions to support the naturally occurring wet and dry cycles in the floodplain environment. This will support several endangered native species, including birds, fish and aquatic flora.

The project aims to:

  • increase environmental flows from east to west of the system which will enable small-bodied fish to better migrate for breeding and feeding
  • improve the ability to target environmental flows and reduce unseasonal flooding
  • provide a drought refuge (areas that remain permanently wet) for floodplain vegetation
  • improve the ability to manage water levels in Moira Lake to better reflect seasonal variations
  • support the ecological habitats of endangered species to ensure their survival in the forest including bird species like the Australasian Bittern.

Project options

Several project options are being considered to improve environmental outcomes, including:

  • modifying or replacing existing River Murray regulators with new structures or gates that will facilitate fish passage
  • creating sills (small elevations from the riverbank bed) in the Gulpa Channel to facilitate watering of Reed Beds Swamp
  • removing block banks and refurbishing the Little Edwards River Offtake Regulator to restore fish migration pathways
  • constructing new sills and regulators in natural waterways that are also used for irrigation to prevent unseasonal spills into the forest
  • upgrading the Bullatale Creek Irrigation Supply Channel and regulator to improve east west flow in the Aratula and Toupna Creek systems (without interrupting the existing water supply and delivery for water users).

Project benefits

The project aims to efficiently deliver environmental water, which will result in environmental, socio-economic and cultural benefits including:

  • healthier native grasses, shrubs, trees with targeted water delivery
  • better passage of small-bodied fish from east to west for breeding and feeding
  • healthier and better functioning wetland areas for water birds and aquatic animals
  • reducing the risk of excessive red river gum saplings across the moira grasslands and floodplains
  • less risk of over-watering or under-watering events that may affect the health of native plants.

Community engagement

We are committed to working together with stakeholders to design and deliver the best possible results for the region and its communities.

We have governance structures included in the project, such as advisory groups, representing stakeholders and helping to guide the project.

Additionally, at key points within the project we will talk to our community and provide them opportunities for feedback.

Extensive consultation and engagement activities with key agencies, groups and individuals have been underway since the project began its initial stages and we will continue to engage with our communities as the project progresses.

Engagement with First Nations people

We recognise and acknowledge the unique relationship and deep Connection to Country First Nations people have as the Traditional Owners and first peoples of Australia.

The wisdom and experience of local First Nations communities will play a critical role in informing the development and approach to the project.

We have a dedicated engagement team who will guide our engagement with these communities, and we look forward to working with them to deliver real, tangible and widely accepted outcomes.