Since settlement, the Latrobe and Thomson rivers have changed significantly. Each year, almost half of the natural flow of the rivers is removed to provide water for towns and industry.
This has put pressure on the rivers from an environmental perspective, with every drop being precious for wetlands at their lower end – such as Heart Morass near Sale.
The Victorian State Government has contributed funding for water control gates at Heart Morass to be upgraded. This will help improve the health of not only the wetlands, but also the Gippsland Lakes.
West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority’s Catchment Planning and Delivery Manager, Dan Garlick, said water control gates allows water to be either drained from, or held within the wetland.
“Unfortunately the water control gates currently in place are old and not working properly,” explained Mr Garlick.
“This project will install new water control gates at the Heart Morass outlet drain.
“This will allow us to be able to control whether water is kept in or drained from the wetlands.”
Draining a wetland is an important part of how they function and can help remove poor quality water or control pest plants and animals.
It can also encourage healthy regeneration of wetland plants that is a food source and breeding habitat for water birds.
“Reduced freshwater inflows from the Thomson and Latrobe rivers, past land use and climate change have had and will continue to have a large impact on the health of Heart Morass,” continued Mr Garlick.
“Heart Morass is is an extremely important fringing wetland of the Gippsland Lakes. “
The replacement of the Heart Morass water control gates will involve a direct partnership between the WGCMA and the WET Trust.
This continues past works that have resulted from the partnership between the WGCMA, WET Trust, Field and Game Australia, Hugh Williamson Foundations, Bug Blitz and Watermark Inc, which has underpinned the restoration of Heart Morass, and is part of a broader program that will also include Parks Victoria and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation.