Gunbower Creek Fishways Project ahead of schedule

Thursday 27 May, 2021

Construction on the Gunbower Creek Fishways Project, which will increase recreational fishing and ecotourism opportunities in the district, has hit the half-way mark.

Goulburn-Murray Water is partnering with the North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) to construct two fishways at Cohuna and Koondrook, as part of the North Central CMA’s Native Fish Recovery Plan.

GMW Senior Project Manager Linc Wellington said principal contractor S&R Engineering was ahead of schedule at both sites.

“Stage one works will be completed before Gunbower Creek is lowered, which will allow stage 2 works to begin,” he said.

“Work at the Cohuna site is about 40 per cent complete, while the Koondrook site is about 35 per cent complete.

“Gunbower Creek will be lowered or dewatered at both sites during the irrigation season shutdown to allow the rest of the works to take place.”

S&R Engineering and Construction project manager Luke Chadderton said stage one involved building about 50 per cent of the fishway structures, while still maintaining water flow through the Gunbower Creek and to downstream irrigators.

“Stage 2 involves lowering the water level in the Gunbower Creek and then dewatering the section of creek surrounding our construction zone through the use of earthen coffer dams,” he said.

“The second 50 per cent of the fishway structures will then be constructed, allowing water flow in the Gunbower Creek to resume in August in time for the opening of the 2021-22 irrigation season.”

Mr Chadderton said S&R was thrilled to work with GMW on such a critical project.

“The project has been extremely collaborative, with S&R and GMW working closely together to ensure we deliver the best outcomes for all stakeholders of the project,” he said.

“We see the project as a great example of how a regional authority can work well with a regional contractor to deliver value to the local community.”

Local sub-contractors from Cohuna, Gunbower, Echuca, Barham, Kerang, Koondrook and Boort have been used.

“Being a regional-based contractor, with all our staff, family and friends living in these regional areas, we always focus on supporting the local community and local businesses,” Mr Chadderton said.

“We look forward to completing the project, allowing upstream and downstream passage of native fish, and providing a significant improvement to the aquatic health of the Gunbower Creek.”

Construction of the fishways began in March and is expected to be finished in October 2021.

The fishway will allow fish, including the vulnerable Murray cod which are breeding in Gunbower Creek, to safely move downstream into the Murray River, and to move upstream and recolonise sections within the upper reaches of the creek.

The works are jointly funded by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder and the Victorian Government’s $2.7 billion Building Works package, announced in May 2020.