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Murrumbidgee and Murray National Park Project

Millewa Forest Project

Improving the efficiency of environmental water delivery and enhancing and improving ecological outcomes.

Reed beds in Millewa, Murray Valley National Park.

The Millewa Forest Project is part of Water Infrastructure NSW’s Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) program, which is part of the greater Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The SDLAM program puts measures in place to divert water using sustainable methods and infrastructure to ensure better environmental and community outcomes.

About Millewa Forest

Located on the traditional land of the Bangerang and Yorta Yorta People, Millewa Forest is located within Murray Valley National Park. The forest precinct is approximately 36,000 hectares in size and is located between the townships of Tocumwal, Mathoura and Deniliquin on the Murray River floodplain. Together with the Barmah Forest in Victoria, it forms the largest river red gum forest in Australia and is listed under the Ramsar international convention on wetlands as a significant breeding site for waterbirds.

About the project

The project aims to improve the efficiency of environmental water delivery, enhance and improve ecological outcomes throughout Millewa Forest, which is located within the Murray Valley National Park.

Millewa Forest is home to several significant species and ecological communities, which rely on regular flows of water into their habitats to survive. The project is exploring a range of infrastructure options that will deliver water to these important habitats, whilst also helping to create conditions to support the naturally occurring wet and dry cycles in the floodplain environment. This will support several endangered native species, including birds, fish and aquatic flora.

The project aims to:

  • increase environmental flows from east to west of the system which will enable small-bodied fish to better migrate for breeding and feeding
  • improve the ability to target environmental flows and reduce unseasonal flooding
  • provide a drought refuge (areas that remain permanently wet) for floodplain vegetation
  • improve the ability to manage water levels in Moira Lake to better reflect seasonal variations
  • support the ecological habitats of endangered species to ensure their survival in the forest including bird species like the Australasian Bittern.

Project options

Several project options are being considered to improve environmental outcomes, including:

  • modifying or replacing existing River Murray regulators with new structures or gates that will facilitate fish passage
  • creating sills (small elevations from the riverbank bed) in the Gulpa Channel to facilitate watering of Reed Beds Swamp
  • removing block banks and refurbishing the Little Edwards River Offtake Regulator to restore fish migration pathways
  • constructing new sills and regulators in natural waterways that are also used for irrigation to prevent unseasonal spills into the forest
  • upgrading the Bullatale Creek Irrigation Supply Channel and regulator to improve east west flow in the Aratula and Toupna Creek systems (without interrupting the existing water supply and delivery for water users).
Project benefits

The project aims to efficiently deliver environmental water, which will result in environmental, socio-economic and cultural benefits including:

  • healthier native grasses, shrubs, trees with targeted water delivery
  • better passage of small-bodied fish from east to west for breeding and feeding
  • healthier and better functioning wetland areas for water birds and aquatic animals
  • reducing the risk of excessive red river gum saplings across the Moira grasslands and floodplains
  • less risk of over-watering or under-watering events that may affect the health of native plants.

Project status

The Millewa Forest Project is progressing through the concept design phase. In addition to the delivery of a concept design, this project phase involves the development of Basis of Design reports, preliminary procurement, delivery and operational plans, and approvals processes for each of the project components. These project activities are critical to the project’s progression to detailed design and construction.

The planning, consultation and modelling to inform these activities is underway and stakeholder reviews of the draft design are progressing.

Community engagement

We are committed to working together with stakeholders to design and deliver the best possible results for the region and its communities.

We have governance structures included in the project, such as advisory groups, representing stakeholders and helping to guide the project.

Additionally, at key points within the project we will talk to our community and provide them opportunities for feedback.

Extensive consultation and engagement activities with key agencies, groups and individuals have been underway since the project began its initial stages and we will continue to engage with our communities as the project progresses.

Engagement with First Nations people

We recognise and acknowledge the unique relationship and deep Connection to Country First Nations people have as the Traditional Owners and first peoples of Australia.

The wisdom and experience of local First Nations communities will play a critical role in informing the development and approach to the project.

We have a dedicated engagement team who will guide our engagement with these communities, and we look forward to working with them to deliver real, tangible and widely accepted outcomes.

Frequently asked questions

Learn more about the project through these frequently asked questions and answers.

What is the Millewa Forest Precinct?

The Millewa Forest Precinct forms the NSW portion of the Barmah-Millewa Forest and is located within Murray Valley National Park and is the largest river red gum forest in Australia. It is located between the townships of Tocumwal, Mathoura and Deniliquin on the Murray River floodplain.

The Barmah-Millewa forest spans across NSW and Victoria and covers over 60,000 hectares. The area is culturally significant for Aboriginal communities, such as the traditional owners the Bangerang and Yorta Yorta People. It is also a notable breeding site for water birds such as egrets and the Australasian Bittern.

What does the Millewa Forest project involve?

The project proposes upgrading and building new infrastructure assets to allow water to be allocated more efficiently. These measures may include engineering works to provide increased benefits to ecological communities.

The project will operate in conjunction with other Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) works under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, including the Yanga National Park project and the already completed Barmah-Millewa Environmental Water Allocation project.

What are the ecological outcomes and benefits?

The Millewa Forest Project will significantly increase the inundation, frequency and duration of environmental flows to the river red gum forest and surrounding grasslands.

Local environmental outcomes within Millewa Forest include:

  • improved health of the surrounding river red gum forests and woodlands, Black Box Woodland, scrublands and floodplain marshes
  • improved foraging and breeding habitat quality for birds, such as kingfishers
  • increased drought refuge sites for native wetland fauna
  • sustained and improved water dispersal between riverine, wetland and floodplain habitat
  • sustained health improvements for surrounding ecosystems and habitats.

What other projects does the Millewa Forest Project work in conjunction with?

The Millewa Forest Project will be delivered in conjunction with the Yanga National Park Project.

Contact us

For more information call us on 1300 081 047 or email us at: winsw.engagement@dpie.nsw.gov.au