|Ten years ago the Wimmera felt more like tropical Queensland as humid and stormy conditions replaced the ‘dry’ heat typical of our summers.
Water, water everywhere – looking back at summer 2011Ten years ago the Wimmera felt more like tropical Queensland as humid and stormy conditions replaced the ‘dry’ heat typical of our summers. The prevailing La Nina conditions meant atmospheric moisture levels were high and heavy downpours were frequent. This culminated in record rainfall and flooding in January 2011 which impacted much of the region – filling wetlands and lakes overnight and sending a massive pulse of floodwater down the Wimmera River. When rain graces the Wimmera’s dry, arid landscape, it is usually a cause for celebration, but this record flood also caused much heartbreak with farmland, property and infrastructure suffering substantial damages.
Floods create a boom for the environment, and often come after a bust – in the case of the Wimmera, the 2011 floods came after more than a decade of drought.
WHAT WE LEARNT FROM THE FLOODS
- Vegetation like river red gums black box trees, as well as lignum bushes, need floodwaters to sustain them and trigger the growth of the next generation.
- Fish, frogs and waterbirds love the shallow water habitats provided during floods and there were booms in their populations after the floods.
- Pest animals such as carp also loved the floods, so we have put several control measures in place and work closely with angling clubs and the community to reduce carp numbers.
- Floods can help secure future environmental flows, flows that we need when dry conditions return (which they always do!).
The way water moved across the landscape provided important information to Wimmera CMA and we have used that knowledge to plan and better prepare for future flood events.
- Through our free Flood Advisory Service, we work closely with councils and people wishing to construct buildings on or near the floodplain to minimise the risks of future flooding to life and property.
- In partnership with others, we have also developed solutions to reduce impacts from future floods such as directing floodwaters into redundant water storages in Rupanyup, and constructing a new Warracknabeal levee.
With dry conditions continuing in the Wimmera, our focus will remain on protecting drought refuges from the extremes of summer with occasional environmental flows after periods of no flow.
There will be periodic low flows for:
Flows for the Wimmera River are planned to start in the new year, with the exact timing dictated by weather and water quality.
- MacKenzie River and Burnt Creek to Wonwondah
- Mt William Creek through to Dadswell’s Bridge