News

Monitoring Goulburn River water quality to protect native fish

By Shepparton News

The water quality in creeks, rivers and wetlands across the catchment is being carefully monitored, following forecasts for a dry and warm spring and summer.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority chief executive officer Chris Norman said stream flows would be below average, with a ‘‘strong chance that flows in many of the smaller creeks and some Goulburn and Broken river tributaries will be very low or may even stop during the next few months’’.

Native fish are at risk when oxygen levels in the water drop and they become stranded in small, unconnected pools.

Goulburn Broken CMA environmental water manager Simon Casanelia said native fish moved to shadier areas during warmer weather, which was why re-snagging and revegetating waterways was important.

‘‘Improving and protecting the bank vegetation that provides this valuable shelter was the main reason water for the environment was delivered along the lower Goulburn River in early spring,’’ he said.

‘‘Reedy Swamp near Shepparton and Horseshoe Lagoon near Trawool have also received water for the environment this year and they will provide some of the few refuges in our region for waterbirds and other wildlife if conditions do remain hot and dry.’’

Mr Casanelia said similar dry conditions were experienced this time last year and sections of a number of creeks dried out, including Seven, Hughes and King Parrot.

‘‘Unfortunately we may see this happen again.

‘‘We are also keeping a close eye on the Broken River and the upper Broken Creek as there has been little or no inflows or run-off into these waterways in recent months.’’

A small amount of water for the environment (about 15 Ml/day) is being released from Lake Nillahcootie to maintain a base flow in the Broken River downstream of the dam.

Options to protect threatened native fish species if waterways dry out, stop flowing or become stagnant include moving fish further downstream or aeration.

There is also an increased chance of black-water events if there are heavy summer storms.

‘‘This is most likely to occur if there is heavy rain and flash flooding in the Strathbogie area and surrounding floodplains, which can wash leaf litter and other debris into the creeks, that then flow into the Goulburn River,’’ Mr Casanelia said.

Information about activities supported by Goulburn Broken CMA to improve waterway health can be found by visiting gbcma.vic.gov.au or by phoning 5822 7700.

Information on river and stream flows can be accessed via the Bureau of Meteorology’s website at bom.gov.au and any fish deaths should be reported to the EPA on 1300 372 842.