Water at work…

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From their cool, quiet hiding places on the banks of Speewa Creek, three frog species have emerged after environmental water revived their wetland habitat. An environmental flow of 500 megalitres was delivered to the creek, north of Swan Hill, in June 2014.

As well as three species of frogs including the Common Eastern Froglet (Crinia signifera), the Plains Froglet (C.parinsignifera) and the Spotted Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis), Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) field staff observed aquatic plants such as Water primrose (Ludwegia montevidensis), Spike rush (Eleocharis acuta) and Common nardoo (Marselia drummondii) emerging from the creek channel.

Assistant Environmental Water Management Officer Sascha Healy said the OEH had worked closely with the Speewa Island Trust to deliver 500 megalitres of environmental water to a section of the creek, approximately 10 kilometres long.

“The OEH set aside 500 megalitres of environmental water for the creek, delivered via Speewa Island Trust pump and canal infrastructure,” Ms Healy said.

“Speewa Creek typically only receives water from the Murray River during high flows, so it is necessary to pump the water into the creek.

“The environmental water is expected to remain in the channel for approximately three or four months before evaporating.

“This was the first environmental watering for Speewa Creek and the response so far has been encouraging.

“We have detected three species of frogs at this stage and expect to find several more when we conduct follow-up environmental flows in the 2014/15 water year,” Ms Healy said.

The Speewa Creek has benefited from environmental watering. Photo S Healy OEH.

The Speewa Creek has benefited from environmental watering. Photo S Healy OEH.

With further environmental watering, OEH staff hope to see a vegetation response in the understorey as well.

Speewa Creek was dry throughout the millennium drought and the condition of mature River Red Gums lining its banks was considered poor to moderate.

Landholders reported some improvement after the drought broke with environmental flows supporting the ongoing health of the wetland ecosystem.

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