A new program by the New South Wales Government to install fish screens on pumps seeks to protect native fish populations as well as save money, time and water for irrigators.

The New South Wales Government’s $20 million Fish-Friendly Water Extraction project will begin in 2023.

NSW DPI Fisheries will manage the fish screen installation process in partnership with Water Infrastructure NSW.

Minister for Agriculture and Western New South Wales, Dugald Saunders, said as part of the program, state-of-the-art fish protection screens would be installed on 49 water pumps across the state, not just contributing to the health of the river systems and the longevity of fish populations, but also increasing farmers’ productivity.

“These modern fish screens are fitted with fine mesh and self-cleaning technology that effectively filters unwanted debris and fish out of pumps and pipes, delivering cleaner water onto properties and reducing the need for farmers to spend time unblocking sprinklers. 

“Research has shown us that these modern fish screens also protect up to 90 per cent of native fish passing through, which is critical as we continue to restock them in waterways after millions were killed during the drought,” Mr Saunders said.

Minister for Water, Kevin Anderson, said the fish screens would not only protect millions of native fish and the environment, but also deliver cleaner water to farms.

“The state-of-the-art irrigation screens will deliver 2,900 megalitres per day of cleaner water by eliminating debris from the irrigation systems,” Mr Anderson said.

“Farmers and properties with fish screens have already reported a range of benefits, including a reduced need to backflush, reduced costs of in-line filtration and energy savings of up to $3,000 per month.

“This project will also boost employment in the region, with local businesses to be engaged to assist with the screen installations. It’s about looking after the environment, farmers and businesses at the same time.”

The fish screening program is part of a suite of complementary measures being used to bolster native fish stocks in the northern Murray-Darling Basin, which also includes the measures to improve fish passage up and down the river.

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