Frequently asked questions
Who is on the Toolondo Reservoir Recreational Fishery Advisory Group (TRRFAG)?
The Advisory Group includes seventeen members drawn from local, State Government agencies and recreational fishers. Members of the Advisory Group include:
- Joe Helper (Chair)
- Rob Loats (VRFish)
- Geoff Stock (local recreational fisher)
- Chris Spence (local recreational fisher)
- Trevor Holmes (local recreational fisher)
- Charlie Officer (local recreational fisher)
- Dallas D'Silva (VRFish)
- John Martin (Horsham Rural City Council)
- Adrian Spall (DELWP)
- Bernie Dunn (Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water)
- Chris Hewitt (Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water)
- Beth Ashworth (Victorian Environmental Water Holder)
- David Brennan (Wimmera Catchment Management Authority)
- Kevin Wood (Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority)
- Anthony Forster (The Victorian Fisheries Authority)
- Travis Dowling (The Victorian Fisheries Authority)
- Taylor Hunt (The Victorian Fisheries Authority, Exec. support)
What have the TRRFAG done?
The Advisory Group met on five occasions, including four meetings at Toolondo, completed four technical studies: Toolondo Fisheries Review, Toolondo bathymetry study, Wimmera Headworks review, Review of Toolondo Reservoir environmental values. Sixteen options for more permanent water for Toolondo were considered, ranging from water saving infrastructure, purchase of water, use of environmental water and changes to water storage and transfer arrangements. The Advisory Group has left no stone unturned in its pursuit to secure the fishing future of Toolondo Reservoir.
What are the key recommendations of the TRRFAG?
The Advisory Group recommended ten short-term and two long-term recommendations including:
- The purchase of annual tradable water for Toolondo Reservoir only be considered by State Government when there is sufficient system water to satisfy full allocations for existing recreational water entitlements in the Wimmera system (refer attachment 6 - Bulk Entitlement Water Share Table column B).
- Manage Toolondo Reservoir recreational fishery in accordance with the TRRFAG Fishery Management Objectives and, consider stocking of ongrown (large) rainbow and/or brown trout when water level, water quality and fishery access conditions enable the creation of a reasonable (short term) winter fishery.
- The Victorian Fisheries Authority work with recreational fishers, Horsham Rural City Council and GWMWater to identify opportunities to improve recreational access and amenity at Toolondo Reservoir in the development of the Lake Toolondo Recreational Management Plan with funding available under the Target One Million infrastructure and access program (e.g. improve: boat ramps, car parking, camping and recreation amenity and signage).
- The Toolondo Reservoir depth gauge should be reset by GWMWater to better reflect the maximum depth of Toolondo Reservoir. This means the minimum water depth required to achieve 2.5m is 156.7m AHD.
- As a priority, investigate the potential to create a high quality native fishery in Rocklands Reservoir by undertaking a fish stocking risk assessment in accordance with departmental translocation policy.
- The Victorian Fisheries Authority, VRFish and local fishers to work with water storage managers to make information on the levels and transfers of water between Wimmera-Glenelg storages more publicly available on a monthly basis with easy access for anglers and the community more widely.
- Clearly delineate the Storage Manager role at GWMWater and more fully describe the roles and responsibilities of the water management governing groups.
- Recreational fishers be represented in the steering committee for future bulk entitlement reviews.
Long-term strategies to support recreational fishing
- Better explain and quantify to recreational fishers and other communities of interest, the environmental (and social) outcomes from the significant investment in environmental water in the Wimmera and Glenelg catchments by funding partners of the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline, the Commonwealth government, the Victorian Government and the customers of the Wimmera Mallee water storage and delivery system.
- In addition to the findings from the Alluvium Group review commissioned by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, work with key stakeholders to identify ways to better integrate current environmental watering and possible reform to headworks operations to provide improved social outcomes for Lake Toolondo and to maximise community benefits of water use across the system.
Has the State Government accepted these recommendations?
Yes, the government has fully accepted these recommendations.
How has the drought impacted on the TRRFAG's work?
The TRRFAG's task of finding more permanent water for Toolondo has been overshadowed by the escalating effects of historic low rainfall and emerging drought conditions in the Wimmera and Glenelg catchments. Since 2011, annual rainfall in the Wimmera has fallen below those experienced during the millennium drought. In the Wimmera River, average annual flows were tracking at around 5% of the long term average.
Across the Wimmera and Glenelg catchments, water storage levels are around 25% which are already impacting water availability for towns, domestic and stock users, and the environment. Under these circumstances, the water will be prioritised for essential uses such as domestic water and livestock. When condition improve however, additional water will be considered for Toolondo Reservoir
Will Toolondo Reservoir receive any more water this summer to top it up?
Due to the escalating effects of historic low rainfall and emerging drought conditions in the Wimmera and Glenelg catchments, it is highly unlikely Toolondo will receive any water allocation in 2016 apart from natural inflows.
A key recommendation from the Advisory Group was that the purchase of annual tradable water for Toolondo Reservoir only be considered by State Government when there is sufficient system water to satisfy full allocations for existing recreational water entitlements in the Wimmera system.
Have any fish died at Toolondo Reservoir this summer?
There have been anecdotal reports of a small number of fish dying this summer.
These deaths may be caused by reduction in water levels, increase in water temperature, low dissolved oxygen or other natural processes occurring unrelated to water reduction. The Victorian Fisheries Authority will be monitoring Toolondo Reservoir and other drying waters across the state, consulting with anglers and land and water managers, reviewing fish stocking programs and assessing the merits of actions to reduce fish kills as they arise.
Will Fisheries be stocking Toolondo Reservoir in 2016? If so, with what and when?
Current water levels of 11% and falling (as of early February 2016) are not considered suitable for fish stocking, however Fisheries Managers will closely monitor the situation and are prepared to act when conditions improve.
When was Toolondo last stocked?
Toolondo Reservoir was most recently stocked with 5,000 catchable size trout in August 2015 to improve fishing opportunities. Fish stocking options for Toolondo Reservoir will be considered at least annually through the Vic Fish Stocking consultation forum.
Can anglers still fish at Toolondo? Launch? From where?
Yes anglers can still fish at Toolondo, however as water levels are low, small boats and kayaks would be easiest to launch. The western boat ramp on the Natimuk-Hamilton road is the most suitable boat ramp into the large waterbody of Toolondo Reservoir. Before travelling to Toolondo, Fishers are encouraged to seek the latest information about water levels and boating access.
What is the Toolondo Reservoir Management Plan and how will it be paid for?
The Toolondo Reservoir Management Plan will be prepared by GWM Water in consultation with community and agency input. It will look to improve recreational access, amenity and infrastructure at Toolondo Reservoir. The plan will commence in March 2016 and recreational fishing related works may be funded through a combination of Target One Million recreational fishing initiative, local government and fishing licence fees.
What other actions have been taken to help Toolondo's predicament?
In addition to the actions of the Advisory Group, The Victorian Fisheries Authority met with recreational fishers, Wimmera CMA. Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water and an earthworks contractor in December to look at ways to reduce evaporative losses. Earthworks have since been undertaken to close off connectivity between the northern and southern lake and reduce connectivity to the eastern lake. These earthworks are expected to reduce evaporative loss, the extent to which is being monitored.
Pumping of water from the northern and eastern waterbodies into the southern large waterbody was also investigated, however found to be unviable.
What about the longer term use of Toolondo Reservoir?
The Victorian Fisheries Authority are contributing to a GWM Water grant proposal to the Commonwealth Government to look at water saving infrastructure at Toolondo Reservoir. If funded this work will examine water saving options by piping water between Rocklands Reservoir, Toolondo and Taylors Lakes and, other options to improve the efficiency of Toolondo Reservoir as a water storage. If Toolondo can be made more a more efficient water storage, it may receive storage water on a more regular basis.
Where else could they fish for trout in that region?
Other quality trout fishing opportunities in Western Victoria include Lake Purrumbete (which receives 20,000 brown trout annually), Lake Fyans (6,000) and the Hopkins River (4,000).