In Australia and many countries worldwide environmental flows are becoming an increasingly popular tool for reducing the negative impacts of river regulation. However, there are many factors that restrict the effectiveness of these flows such as thermal pollution, existing physical infrastructure and the limited volume of water available. Since environmental flows result in reduced water allocations for irrigators, the aim of the present study was to investigate whether irrigators' attitudes towards environmental flows for wetlands are influenced by the effectiveness of these flows. Three focus groups were used to engage with farmers in the Murrumbidgee Catchment, eastern Australia. A simulation model of the Murrumbidgee River was created to provide focus groups with a tool for examining the effectiveness of wetland-watering releases and exploring alternative management scenarios. The results showed that participants support the principle of environmental flows for wetlands. However, they believed that the flows could be more effective if the restrictions imposed by physical infrastructure were removed. They also suggested that the volume of translucency releases should be lowered, as these flows reduce the amount of water available for wetlands and lower early season allocations for general-security water users. The participants provided numerous suggestions for altering the management of water resources so that both the Mid Murrumbidgee Wetlands and farmers would benefit. �� 2008 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.