Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) has been undertaking the
rehabilitation of the drought-affected Hattah Lakes for a number of
years, and GHD is proud to be associated with this important
This has been a visionary project developed over years of
planning, implemented by GMW, as the construction agency for the
Murray-Darling Basin Authority, designed by GHD, and under the
direction of the Mallee Catchment Management Authority. It has been
a sustained effort to restore ecological function to the lakes.
One of Australia’s most important cultural and ecologically
significant habitats, this system of ephemeral freshwater lakes
within the Murray-Darling Basin in northwest Victoria, near
Mildura, was approaching ecological collapse in 2004. The Hattah
Lakes complex is part of the 48,000 hectare Hattah-Kulkyne National
Park. Chalka Creek connects the lakes to the Murray River, however,
river regulation and a drying climate has meant the lakes’ natural
flooding pattern occurs less frequently and for shorter duration.
This has led to threatened species disappearing, cultural sites
being exposed, and old-growth river red gum communities coming
under severe water stress and dying.
In 2004, GMW undertook emergency action to return water to the
system. The early emergency watering events from 2004 to 2006 saw
as many as seven temporary diesel pumps on tandem trailers parked
on the river bank, each pumping 20 megalitres (ML) a day from the
river into Chalka Creek, then to the lakes, almost 20 km away.
Returning water to the system was just the beginning. The
environment responded to the emergency watering program, providing
environmental agencies with the opportunity and time to explore
other options, test concepts and plan a long-term solution.
The vision is to restore a more natural wetting and drying
regime to Hattah Lakes and, in doing so, develop a long-term,
sustainable solution and water regime targeted at specific
ecological objectives, to secure the lakes’ future.
Today, Hattah Lakes are receiving sufficient water to commence
the recovery process, due to the installation of integrated
environmental water infrastructure, designed by GHD, which allows
efficient delivery, control and re-use of precious environmental