Water for the environment

We recognise Aboriginal people as Traditional Owners and custodians of the land and water in Victoria and acknowledge their cultural relationships with the waterways.

Water for the environment helps to sustain healthy Country for Aboriginal people.

So what is Water for the Environment?

Many of Victoria’s rivers and wetlands have been modified as the population has grown to provide water important for towns, industry and food production.
In some rivers, up to half of the water that would have flowed naturally prior to the construction of dams, weirs and reservoirs, is removed each year for urban consumption, irrigation and industry.
In the Glenelg Hopkins region, water for the environment is set aside in Rocklands Reservoir and is periodically released into the Glenelg River to support the plants and animals that live, feed and breed there.

Glenelg Hopkins CMA works with the Victorian Environmental Water Holder to ensure water for the environment achieves the best environmental outcomes.

The plan for seasonal watering using environmental water allocation is released by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder on July 1 every year.

Water releases for the environment are managed to improve the health of rivers, wetlands and floodplains, also benefits communities by:

  • Increasing opportunities for recreational activities such as fishing, boating, canoeing and birdwatching;
  • Sustaining healthy country for Traditional Owners that have a long-standing connection to rivers, wetlands and floodplains; and
  • Improving water quality which has economic benefits for farmers.

You can read the 2023-2024 Seasonal Watering Plan for Victoria by viewing or downloading one of the following documents

Find out more about the seasonal watering plan, water for the environment and the Victorian Environmental Water Holder HERE

Where will water for the environment go and why?

The Victorian Seasonal Watering Plan sets out a plan for water for the environment and is released on or before June 30 each year.

Water for the environment is water that’s set aside in storages such as dams and released or ‘delivered’ to help native plants and animals survive, thrive and reproduce. It also helps to maintain and improve waterway health needs such as connectivity, water levels and water quality.
The seasonal watering plan is a state-wide plan outlining where, when, and why water for the environment can be delivered throughout Victorian waterways.

The plan is developed by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder in close partnership with waterway managers – who engage extensively with their communities including Traditional Owners, storage managers, land managers, and scientists – to ensure a planning process that is informed by scientific understanding, local and cultural knowledge, and on-ground evaluation.

Western Region

How water for the environment is helping plants and animals in western Victoria in 2022-2023.

Many of Victoria’s rivers and wetlands have been modified to provide water vital for farms, homes and industry. Water for the environment is set aside in storages then released to improve the health of rivers and wetlands to support them and the plants, fish and other animals that live, feed and breed in them.

Water for the environment also benefits communities by improving conditions for fishing, camping and canoeing. Improved water quality can have economic benefits for irrigation and urban water supply.

You can read about the plan for our region HERE

What’s changed since environmental flows began?

Pygmy perch & blackfish thrive
Endangered pygmy perch & blackfish are thriving
Native Fish
Native fish like tupong are back to their previous numbers
Salinity is down
Salinity levels have decreased by 80%
Rare Wimmera Bottlebrush has become more prevalent on river banks

Good news for farmers, great news for anglers…

Environmental flows have the decreased salinity of the upper Glenelg River providing fresher water for stock to drink. This has real benefits for the many farmers using the river for stock and domestic purposes.

Environmental flows have changed the face of fishing in the Glenelg River north of Casterton since they started in 2009.

Annual fish surveys show native fish numbers are increasing in the Glenelg River and native fish are returning to the upper reaches of the river.


From a farming perspective environmental flows are a productivity booster.
– Justin Weaver, Balmoral


With good flows we are able to supply our stock with better quality water and secondly we are able to enjoy the river and the nature that goes with it.
– Julie and Peter Crowle, Dergholm


There has been a real improvement in the health of the river and this is very evident in the stocks and condition of the native fish.
– Shane Lowery, Administrator South West Victoria Fishing Reports

Check out how water for the environment is helping bring fish back to the Glenelg River.


of landholders in the upper Glenelg region rely on a healthy Glenelg River for stock and domestic water supply.


reduction of salinity concentrations due to flows, an important benefit for downstream users.


increase in times where environmental flows have made water suitable for stock to drink.


million estimated in total benefits to the economy contributed from environmental flows in the Glenelg River.

Some questions answered…

You can find more information here