Fish Habitat Concerns Prompt Over 1000 Petition Signatures

May 16, 2000 Tumut & Adelong Times

A public petition being circulated in the district calling on authorities to arrest the "decline" in the Tumut river fish habitat has already attracted over 1000 signatures.

With the petition having been circulated by local business houses for the past three weeks, organisers say that the response is indicative of the depth of concern about the state of the river, and the need to commence rehabilitation works as a matter of urgency.

"The response to this petition has been almost overwhelming, with many seemingly not able to sign up quick enough", said one of the organisers, Ron Bowden. "This is the first time such an initiative has been put in the public domain about the river and certainly demonstrates how deeply concerned everyone is as to what is happening to our great natural asset."

Submissions have already been made to the Department of Land and Water Conservation personnel in charge of river works, but organisers of the petition are also encouraging local individuals and agencies to lodge additional protests by way of writing or sending a fax to the Department of Land and Water Conservation's Leeton office, and to State M.P.s

They say the petition will be used as a strong support to any deputation to higher authorities in due course if a suitable response from the Department is not forthcoming in the near future. Details of the petition were handed to the Minister for Land and Conservation, Mr Amery, during his brief visit to the district.

The concerns were also raised at a meeting of the Tumut River Advisory Committee last week. The Advisory Committee was informed that because of the high water flow and alterations to the river there were now an increasing and extraordinary number of fast, flat long runs, whirlpools, "donuts" and surges, where nothing could live or take refuge.

"The river has a diversified range of fauna from platypus, water rats, water fowl, fish, frogs, and reptiles down to the tiny benthic invertebrates which make up the food source, and these inhabitants must be given a lot more consideration than they have been given in the past, otherwise we will lose them", said Mr Bowden.

"We cannot continue to simply concentrate on sending water to irrigators as fast as possible, and be oblivious to everything else such as habitat, environment etc.

"We don't want to take anything from anyone, but we need to work towards a more balanced management plan so all stakeholders and river inhabitants are accommodated equally and fairly.

"We cannot continue to ignore the decline of our river system and continue to treat it as an irrigation channel only."

The DWLC currently spends some $850,000 each year on projects on the Tumut River, the majority of that money being spent on erosion and willow control measures, including rock walling.