The Edward-Wakool system is a large anabranch system of the Murray River in the southern MDB, Australia. The system begins in the Millewa Forest and travels north and then northwest before discharging back into the Murray River. It is a complex network of interconnected streams, ephemeral creeks, flood-runners and wetlands including the Edward River, Wakool River, Yallakool Creek, Colligen-Niemur Creek and Merran Creek. The Edward-Wakool Selected Area can be broadly divided into three aquatic ecosystem types:
The Edward-Wakool system is considered to be important for its high native species richness and diversity including threatened and endangered fish, frogs, mammals, and riparian plants. This system has abundant areas of fish habitat, and historically had diverse fish communities which supported both commercial and recreational fisheries. Threatened species of the site include the trout cod, Murray hardyhead, Murray cod, silver perch, Australasian bittern, Australian painted snipe, superb parrot, and swamp wallaby grass (Department of Environment and Energy 2019).
The area supports a productive agricultural community, has a rich and diverse Indigenous history, and supports both active and passive recreational uses such as fishing, bird-watching and bush-walking. Many Aboriginal nations maintain strong connections to the country (including the Yorta Yorta, Wiradjuri, Barapa Barapa, Wemba Wemba and Wari Wari), with the Werai Forest in the process of conversion to an Indigenous Protected Area.
The Edward-Wakool system also plays an important ecological role in connecting upstream and downstream ecosystems in the mid-Murray River. The multiple streams and creeks in this system provide important refuge and nursery areas for fish and other aquatic organisms, and adult fish regularly move between this system and other parts of the Murray River. As some of the rivers in the Edward-Wakool system have low discharge (compared to the Murray River) there is a risk of poor water quality developing in this system, particularly during warm periods or from floodplain return flows. Maintaining good water quality in the Edward-Wakool system is crucial for both the river ecosystem, the communities and landholders that rely on the water from this system, and downstream communities along the Murray River that are influenced by the water quality in this system.