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Work begins to restore better health to Mulcra Island

Construction has started on an innovative project that will help rescue Mulcra Island. Located half way between Mildura and Renmark on the Murray River, Mulcra Island provides vital habitat for rare and threatened species such as the regent parrot, the growling grass frog and the red-naped snake. The island is rich in Indigenous heritage and is also a much-loved camping and fishing destination for many people.

Construction began this week to build five environmental regulators that will enable the flooding of up to 800 hectares of drought-stressed floodplain. Subject to water availability, the regulators will be used in tandem with a variation of Lock 8 levels to reinstate a more natural frequency of flows down the Potterwalkagee Creek, which is the anabranch of the Murray River that forms Mulcra Island.

Under The Living Murray, a program of works is being developed at each of the icon sites to ensure that available environmental water is used efficiently and ecological benefits are maximised. The Mulcra Island project is part of this program.

The Living Murray is implemented in the local region by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), on behalf of the Department of Sustainability and Environment and in partnership with Parks Victoria. Construction works are being managed by SA Water.

“River regulation has changed the natural flooding pattern of Mulcra Island, which has left the floodplain and important plants and animals in poor condition,” Mallee CMA chief executive officer Jenny Collins said.

“The structures that are now being built will help ensure water can be returned to this area in an effective and accountable way, meaning we can maximise the use of environmental water when it is available and importantly will still be able to be operated while river flows are low.”

The package of works being built at Mulcra Island is the result of years of planning and research carried out by the government agencies involved. This has been complemented by extensive work with Indigenous stakeholders and community members. Emergency works carried out at the island over the past six years has included delivering environmental water to important sites, which has helped maintain the health of Mulcra Island until works could commence.

Tony Martin is the chair of the Community Reference Group, which was formed in 2008 to guide community engagement around this project. He has welcomed the start of construction and says the works are a vital step toward improving an important part of the Murray River environment.

“When these works are fully operational and environmental water is available, a total of 800 hectares of floodplain will be able to be inundated and flows will be returned to Potterwalkagee Creek, which will provide much-needed habitat for waterbirds, fish, frogs and turtles,” he said.

Construction of the Mulcra Island works is expected to take about six months, during which time access at Mulcra Island will be limited. For the latest information on track access, contact Parks Victoria on 13 19 63 or visit www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

To keep up to date with the project, check to the Mulcra Island page on the Mallee CMA’s website for regular updates and images.

The Living Murray is a joint initiative funded by the New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, Australian Capital Territory and the Commonwealth governments, coordinated by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority.

To find out more about the construction work at Mulcra Island, view the Mulcra Island Google Tour.

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