Water for the environment

The Environmental Water Reserve (EWR) is a share of water in Victoria’s rivers and aquifers across Victoria set aside to preserve waterway environmental values and ecosystem health.

A Water Act amendment in 2005 established the Environmental Water Reserve to sustain the long-term health of our rivers and groundwater systems.

The EWR was established to address flow as a part of river health. Environmental flows can be:
• water released from storage dams to waterways
• run-of-river flows created by rainfall and not captured for other uses
• groundwater levels that are maintained through restrictions on other users.

Catchment management authorities including the Corangamite CMA, are responsible for operating the EWR on behalf of the Victorian Environmental Water Holder.


Lower Barwon environmental watering entitlement

Reedy Lake is a shallow lake in the Lake Connewarre State Game Reserve on the lower reaches of the Barwon River, and is internationally recognized for its ecological importance.

Permanently high water levels at Reedy Lake are damaging its ecosystem, reducing populations of threatened species. If the lake water level is not temporarily lowered in accordance with scientific recommendations, it will place 47 threatened species communities at increased risk of decline or loss.
Water levels were first lowered over summer 2016/17 and will be lowered again over summer 2017/18.

How the water levels will be lowered:
• Temporary lowering of Reedy Lake water levels began in October 2017
• To lower water levels, the inlet will be closed and the outlet opened.
• Reedy Lake water levels will be increased again in March/April 2018 by opening the inlet (levels are lowered each summer for three years, with full water levels maintained in every fourth year).

To find out more check out the following links:

Lower Barwon Environmental Watering Entitlement Fact Sheet

Frequently Asked Questions

Coastal saltmarsh at Reedy Lake


Increasing knowledge of the Lower Barwon

Monitoring stations are located at Reedy Lake and Hospital Swamps. Corangamite CMA can monitor the height of the water, electrical conductivity (EC), temperature and dissolved oxygen (DO) at these sites.

The Arthur Rylah Institute also conducts ongoing monitoring at Reedy Lake to track changes in the vegetation communities, as part of the state-wide WetMAP (Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program). 

In 2018-19 a program of risk monitoring was commenced, focusing on metals, pH and associated water quality parameters to pick up any trends that might indicate an activation of acid sulphate soils in the wetland.

Completed projects and findings to date are available below:


2019 Duck Season at Reedy Lake

The Corangamite CMA is implementing a low-water level regime at Reedy Lake this year to protect the wetland’s ecology in line with the 2018/19 Victorian Seasonal Watering Plan. Reedy Lake is located near Geelong and is a popular location for the duck hunting season. Please be aware that low-water levels at the wetland may affect site access for duck season opening this year.

The low-water level regime is working to control reeds that are taking over areas of Reedy Lake that previously supported a diverse range of plants. Whilst reeds are an important part of the ecosystem, they are reducing the amount of open water in the wetland. This loss of habitat is impacting the number and diversity of internationally important migratory waterbirds the wetland supports.


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