NEW water control gates at the south eastern end of Heart Morass will allow water into and out of the wetland, helping to improve its health and provide improved habitat for the animals that call it home.
West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority’s project delivery team leader Matt Bowler said the gates would be used to allow water in and out, to mimic natural wetland wetting and drying.
“Before European settlement, the wetland would naturally have flooded and then dried,” he said.
“However, there is less water in the system — water is removed from the Latrobe, Thomson and Macalister rivers for use in houses, farms and industry.
“We also have the permanent opening at Lakes Entrance meaning that at times, saltier water enters the wetland.
“While these changes to the water flow suit human needs it doesn’t suit the needs of plants and animals in our wetlands.
“These combined factors mean that we need to intervene and put infrastructure in place to help the wetland behave in a more natural way.”
The four water control gates have been designed to allow water in and out.
The gates will also allow the authority to make better use of water for the environment, which is released into the Thomson, Latrobe and Macalister rivers.
During water releases there will be the option of opening the gates to allow this fresh water onto the wetland.
Heart Morass is a large wetland wedged between two Ramsar sites, at the confluence of the Thomson and Latrobe rivers near Sale.
The wetland area was previously used for heavy grazing and it suffered from acid sulphate soils and salinity. Most of the wetland is now owned by the WET Trust and is being restored.
Ramsar-listed wetlands are wetlands recognised for their international significance. The wetlands of the Gippsland Lakes play an important role in providing freshwater habitat for birds and frogs and as a stopping point for migratory birds.
The new water control gates were funded by the state government for the health of the Gippsland Lakes.