What is environmental flow and why do we need it?
Stormwater runs off from farms, streets and public places into creeks, creeks run into rivers, rivers flow into dams, estuaries and to the sea. When rivers flow into and out of dams, which supply us with drinking water, they carry sediments and nutrients. This creates ecological impacts such as weed infestation, algal blooms, reduced oxygen and deteriorating fish production.
Poor river health impacts on the environment of our homes, the fishing and recreational industries, agriculture and local tourism. In addition, water treatment plants have to spend more time and money to provide high quality drinking water.
Not all of the water in dams is used for human consumption or agricultural irrigation. A part of the flow is required to re-enter the river and flow into the estuaries as "environmental flow". Environmental flows that are released from the dams are very important to the health of aquatic life and native fish and flow of healthy water reduces algal bloom and the growth of aquatic weeds.
The NSW government is responsible for protecting the health of the river systems and their surrounding environment and has implemented the Environmental Flows and River Health program, which aims to ‘provide sustainable management by delivering ecological, social and economic benefits to the river systems. This is critically important to the surrounding communities, industries, farms and environments that depend on them’.
Extracts from - Hunter Central Rivers CMA, 2005. Annual Report 2005
Dept. of Land and Water Conservation. 1999
Water Reforms, Stressed River Assessment Report, Lake Macquarie/ Tuggerah Lakes/ Brisbane Water Catchments