New technology to help irrigators protect native fish
Irrigators will save water, time and money at the same time as protecting native fish populations now and well into the future, thanks to the $20 million Fish-Friendly Water Extraction project, which forms an integral part of the Commonwealth’s Northern Basin Toolkit.
Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW 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,” Mr Saunders said.
“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.
“This project is a great example of how the NSW Government is supporting the agriculture industry to adopt modern, on-farm technology, translating innovative research into practical measures.”
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.”
NSW DPI Fisheries will manage the fish screen installation process in partnership with Water Infrastructure NSW, with construction to begin next year.
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.
For more information about the fish screening project, visit Fish Screens Australia.