ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Program (MER)

At 87,348 km2 the Murrumbidgee catchment in southern NSW is one of the largest river catchments in the Murray-Darling Basin. The Murrumbidgee River is also one of the most regulated rivers in Australia, controlled by multiple major reservoirs including the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme, the Australian Capital Territory Water Supply Scheme, and, in NSW, primarily by two large dams: Burrinjuck Dam on the Murrumbidgee River and Blowering Dam located on the Tumut River. Around 45-50% of average annual flow is diverted to agriculture and other human consumptive use. The river is therefore of considerable economic and environmental importance, supplying water to major inland irrigation areas and rural communities. The river, wetlands and other waterscapes are also deeply significant features of Country for the Aboriginal peoples of the region.

The Murrumbidgee Selected Area covers the lowland section of the Murrumbidgee catchment and largely encompasses the Murrumbidgee portion of the “aquatic endangered ecological community of the Natural Drainage System of the Lower Murray River Catchment”, as identified under the NSW Fisheries Management Act 1994.

The Murrumbidgee Selected Area contains three significant regions: the Murrumbidgee River main channel, the mid-Murrumbidgee wetlands and the Lowbidgee floodplain. These regions provide critical habitats for a number of federally-listed threatened species, including the Australasian bittern, trout cod, Murray cod, silver perch, Macquarie perch, southern bell frog and fishing bat; as well as a nationally significant population of the endangered Grey Snake. The Lowbidgee floodplain also contains some of the Murray-Darling Basin’s largest breeding sites for colonially-nesting waterbirds and waterbird species listed under bilateral migratory bird agreements that Australia has signed with Japan, China and the Republic of Korea.

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 Wiradjuri, Nari-Nari, Mudi-Mudi, and the Waddi Waddi). Toogimbe Indigenous Protected Area is an important area of cultural and environmental heritage managed by the Nari Nari Tribal Council. Maintaining the condition and character of areas of floodplain and riverine habitats, while still supporting economic development and rural communities is a key goal of environmental watering activities in the Murrumbidgee.

The Murrumbidgee MER Program is conducted across three key ecological regions: the mid and lower Murrumbidgee River channel, the mid-Murrumbidgee wetlands, and the Lowbidgee floodplain.  These regions are further divided into separate monitoring zones that represent areas with common ecological and hydrological attributes.

Murrumbidgee River channel:

  • Carrathool reach (358.0km)

Wetland zones:

  • mid-Murrumbidgee wetlands (82,800ha)
  • Lowbidgee
  • Redbank (92,504ha)
  • Nimmie-Caira (98,128ha)

Map Murrumbidgee