Goulburn Valley Water (GVW) has 26 Wastewater Management Facilities (WMF) which provide plenty of opportunities for habitat, especially for birds such as waterbirds (eg ducks), raptors (eg falcons, kites and eagles) and shorebirds (eg stilts, lapwings, dotterels). Game Management Authority (GMA) and Birdlife Murray-Goulburn often come to GVW wastewater facilities to birdwatch. There have been many studies conducted by ornithologists to show why sewage lagoons are important habitat to a variety of birdlife. In 2021 GMA counted a total of 2,050 game duck species across GVW’s sites, with Shepparton WMF having the highest count of Blue-Winged Shovelers across the state.

Due to the mostly biological treatment process of Goulburn Valley Water’s wastewater lagoons; there is a lot of bacteria in these systems which help breakdown the organic matter as well as provide easily accessible food for water birds. These wastewater management facilities never dry out during droughts and provide a safe habitat from the outside world. At some of GVW’s WMF’s, nesting boxes have been established in the middle of lagoons to provide a safe area for birds to nest.

Large numbers of birds can congregate on wastewater treatment lagoons. For example, 22,000 Pink Eared Ducks have been recorded at Shepparton WMF, along with large numbers of Eurasian Coots, Grey Teal, Hardhead and Hoary-headed Grebe. Generally, WMF’s provide deep water habitat, so the site is favoured by species that prefer that habitat.

As the water level in the lagoons drops over summer, conditions can become favourable for shorebirds, such as Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Red-necked Avocets and Red-capped Plovers. Rare or uncommon shorebirds such as the Pectoral Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper can be recorded when conditions are favourable. Some of these birds are migratory and are protected by international agreements. (Pat Feehan, BirdLife Murray-Goulburn, 2022).

For more information please refer to:

Explore Hotspots - eBird

BirdLife Murray-Goulburn | BirdLife Australia


A selection of birds sighted at Goulburn Valley Water facilities

Double banded plover


Hoary headed grebe




Black swan


Silver gull


Pectoral sandpiper


Pectoral sandpiper


Musk duck


Red necked stint


White bellied sea eagle

White bellied sea eagle