Using adaptive management to meet multiple goals for flows along the Mitta Mitta River in South-Eastern Australia

Catherine Allan, Robyn Watts, Sarah Commens, Darren Ryder

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter

10 Citations (Scopus)


In this chapter we reflect on a relatively small but influential example of adaptive management which seeks to enhance the environmental benefits of the flow regime in the highly regulated Mitta Mitta River in Australia's Murray-Darling Basin. In 1999 an operational review recommended the reintroduction of greater in-stream flow variability in the Mitta Mitta River in an attempt to improve river health. The river managers have worked towards this through managed variable releases from Dartmouth Dam. These variable releases have been trialled four times from 2001-2008, with the explicit intention of learning more about the ecological impacts of variable flows while still achieving operational goals for the River Murray System overall. The ecological impact of the variable releases was studied via a series of consultancies by a University freshwater ecology team. They concluded that variable flow improved ecological condition compared with the condition after periods of relatively constant flow for greater than 1 month, although the benefits of it are relatively short-lived. Principles were developed over time through discussions between river managers and the research team. These principles are being progressively refined and incorporated into the current operational plan for the river, and learning continues. We suggest that three key ingredients enabled and supported adaptive management in this particular case; aspects of the operational context, the people involved and the trusting relationships that developed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdaptive environmental management
Subtitle of host publicationa practitioner's guide
EditorsCatherine Allan, George Henry Stankey
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781402096327
ISBN (Print)9789048127108
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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