ACT awarded for endangered fish recovery

A WORLD class fish management and protection program at Canberra’s Cotter Dam has won a prestigious National Program Innovation Award.

The award was one of only eight awarded as part of the Australian Water Association’s annual awards ceremony, at which the ACT’s Murrumbidgee to Googong Water Transfer project was also a finalist in the Project Innovation category.

In 2007 when ACT Electricty & Water (ACTEW) committed to building the new Cotter Dam it also committed to protecting the fish species that live in and downstream of the reservoir, in particular the endangered Macquarie perch.

Chris Webb, Approvals Manager for the Cotter Dam Project said:

“Working with leading edge research partners like the University of Canberra, our fish management program is the culmination of years of research and investigation to ensure that we put appropriate measures in place to protect the endangered Macquarie Perch.

A key part of this research tested different types of artificial habitat for the fish to provide shelter and protect them from predatory birds as the new reservoir level rises by around 50 metres”

The award winning program involved constructing around seven kilometres of specially designed rock reef habitat for the endangered Macquarie perch. The artificial reefs, constructed from large boulders, stand around two metres high and are three metres wide at their base and have been constructed in rows at different levels through the new reservoir.

The intricate pattern of stacked rocks and intervening spaces used to create this specialist habitat has been a fundamental feature of the wider dam program and will continue to assist university research and monitoring of the fish well beyond the construction period.

Mark Lintermans, Associate Professor in Freshwater Fish Ecology, University of Canberra, said:

“We’re delighted that the innovative and important environmental elements of the Cotter Dam project are being acknowledged in this way. To develop the rock reef, helping to protect the endangered Macquarie Perch, was visionary. We will continue to investigate how this specially created habitat contributes to the conservation of this important species and monitor any increase in their numbers in Cotter Reservoir in the years ahead.”

The Cotter Dam project and fish habitat is being constructed by the Bulk Water Alliance, a partnership between ACTEW Water, John Holland, Abigroup and GHD.

Chris Webb, Approvals Manager for the Cotter Dam Project said:

“We thank and congratulate our fellow partners on this prestigious award that will help ensure the environment in and around the Cotter Reservoir is preserved and enhanced.”

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