River managers are keeping a close eye on conditions for native fish in refuge pools in the Gwydir catchment.
Replenishment flows are preserving water quality and providing connections between priority fish refuge sites.
A total of 2850 megalitres of water for the environment from Environmental Contingency Allowance and Commonwealth General Security accounts was released from Tareelaroi Weir in January 2020. This delivery has coincided with a delivery of irrigation water for downstream users. By ‘piggybacking’ the flows, both parties can minimise and share the cost of water losses resulting from seepage and evaporation.
Wetlands and Rivers Conservation Officer Matthew Miles said refuge pools along the Gwydir and Mehi rivers and Carole Creek were being targeted by the flow.
‘This event is one in a series aimed at maintaining refuge habitat and supporting native fish through the drought,’ Mr Miles said.
‘Less than a month has passed since the last flow and already refuge pools have started to recede. Some smaller pools have dried up completely, but larger pools are holding.
‘With native fish depending on these isolated sites for their survival, it is important we do what we can to support them through summer and the ongoing drought.
‘Our team is working with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and DPI Fisheries to monitor water quality and identify any issues that may arise as the flow progresses,’ he said.
The rivers and creeks of the Gwydir catchment are home to a diverse array of native fish including freshwater catfish, Murray cod, golden perch and several small-bodied native fish.
They rely on a healthy river system to feed, breed, grow and move.
Water for the environment is supporting the survival of native fish so they can repopulate the system when rain and river flows return to the system.
River managers will consider follow-up flows in the Gwydir catchment subject to rainfall and access to water in storage .