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2013 Water – Our Most Precious Resource Award


   Water – Our Most Precious Resource Award

Restoring the balance – The Hattah Lakes environmental watering program

Mallee Catchment Management Authority, VIC

Reviving the drought-ravaged Hattah Lakes has been a visionary project to restore better health to this system of semi-permanent freshwater lakes within the Murray Darling Basin. This project has been led by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and supported by a number of crucial partners and key stakeholders. The lakes are part of the 48,000 hectare Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, 60 kilometres south of Mildura, Victoria. This critical ecosystem has been threatened by the effects of river regulation, ongoing drought and low inflows. The natural flooding pattern has been lost, leaving important flora and fauna struggling to survive and thousands of people without a much loved landscape. Emergency action utilising temporary pumps was taken in 2004 to help return water to Hattah Lakes, with the learnings from this work then applied to form an innovative plan to install permanent pump infrastructure and associated works at Hattah Lakes in 2013. Widespread community engagement has underpinned the environmental watering program at Hattah Lakes, including intensive Indigenous consultation. This innovative project represents proactive action to protect and enhance an environmentally significant landscape that may otherwise have been lost.

Comments from Judges

In the Judges opinion this project has beautifully demonstrated how to manage a long-term, multi objective project whilst achieving environmental and social gains. The changing attitudes of the local community, the demonstrable lessons learned and the ecological outcomes have made this project a real winner under every scenario.