GMW’s Wayne Crichton releasing a Murray Cod into the local waterway.

Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) has commenced the routine dewatering of the regions lower irrigation channels, allowing for the desilting and treating of channels and the relocation of local fish populations.

During its Winter Works program, GMW lowers channels across its region so it can desilt them and treat them for weeds. One such channel GMW lowered in late July was the Number 1 Channel at Leitchville.

GMW works closely with the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) to ensure when the channels are lowered the fish can be rescued and relocated.

The fish hatchery will help stock GVW and the Burnanga Indigenous Fishing Club’s Dunyak Moira project (meaning fishing lake in Yorta Yorta language).

The project will transform two decommissioned lagoons at the Merrigum Water Treatment Plant into lakes that will be stocked with native fish.

GMW Water Delivery Services General Manager, Warren Blyth, said he was pleased the utility could support the project while also completing its own works.

“Dewatering channels is a crucial part of our Winter Works program. It helps ensure our channels are in good condition when the irrigation season begins so our irrigators can get the water they need,” he said.

“When we dewater our channels, we always do what we can to rescue and relocate native fish in them. Often we simply transport them back to nearby creeks, but it is great that in this instance we know we are moving them to somewhere they will be a valuable asset.

“In the Number 1 Channel at Leitchville we found some very healthy native fish. We relocated 18 cod ranging between 59-96cm and 19 yellow bellies ranging between 30-60cm.”

Goulburn Valley Managing Director, Steve Capewell, said the relocated fish would help make the new lakes a great asset for the community.

“We have used donated, recycled materials such as rootballs from trees and concrete pipes to create a fish habitat on the lakes’ floors. It is a place we expect fish to thrive and fishers to love,” Mr Capwell said.

“The fish from GMW’s channel will help turn these lakes into vibrant community spaces. It has been a great outcome for both corporations.”

The Dunyak Moira project is expected to be complete in 2023 and there is currently no public access. Heavy machinery is currently operating at the site, so it is crucial people follow the safety signage and stay out of prohibited areas.

Feature Image: GMW’s Wayne Crichton releasing a Murray Cod into the local waterway. Photo: GMW.

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