Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Tackling erosion and creating jobs

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A 10km stretch of the Edward River, with Deniliquin situated at the centre, will be getting ‘‘green infrastruc­ture’’ in the next nine to 10 months.

The project is part of an Edward Wakool Angling Associatio­n project.

EWAA scientific officer John Conallin said the essential ingredient to a healthy Edward River is planting reeds on the riverbanks, which serve a variety of functions to allow whole ecosystems to flourish.

‘‘Once they’re establishe­d they’ll live indefinite­ly,’’ Dr Conallin said.

‘‘The good thing about reeds is you don’t have to go and replace them, unlike rocks and cement.’’

EWAA has worked with the Deniliquin Lagoons Landcare Group and Deniliquin High School students to revegetate 6km of river from 2018-21, fund- ed by the Murray Local Lands Services.

This second stage will see new reed beds planted, likely in autumn next year when the river is low, with the plants growing as the river fills.

‘‘It (growing reeds) doesn’t just protect riverbanks from erosion for fish and shrimp, it also increases the productivi­ty in a river,’’ Dr Conallin said.

‘‘Basically if you think about the food chain, what it does is it allows areas of algae to grow on the stems and this algae process provides nutrients for shrimp, then fish eat the shrimp and bigger fish eat the smaller fish and then humans eat the fish,’’ he said.

‘‘If you don’t start at the productivi­ty level, then you have a very unproducti­ve system.’’

River erosion in the Edward River system is caused by many factors such as past water management practices, the removal of snags and reeds, stock access, and different water release methods which have to be balanced with delivery needs downstream.

Dr Conallin said reeds provide more than food; they also offer a habitat to hide and breed in, and they stop sediment entering the river.

‘‘Sediment is a huge problem because it blocks sunlight from entering the water and that stops aquatic plants from growing and completing the photosynth­esis process at the start of the food chain,’’ he said.

A $44,000 Murray Darling Healthy Rivers Program grant will help complete the project.

‘‘We could employ a local contractor, organisati­on or individual­s as needed for the project,’’ Dr Conallin said.

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‘‘This stage is still aimed at revegetati­on of sections of the river that have high erosion, but with an employment focus.’’

EWAA’s was one of eight regional projects to receive funding under the program, which Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley said was ‘‘a win for river communitie­s’’.

Others are based on the Bullatale and Columbo Creek, and at Wentworth, Barham, Griffith, Monack and Leeton, with the amount for Farrer projects totalling more than $380,000.

‘‘Each of these will develop projects with meaningful environmen­tal benefits which employ local people and buy materials from local businesses, leading to flow-on spending in our communitie­s,” Ms Ley said.

She said the projects will ‘‘address the historic clearing of fish habitats by installing protective snags and rock piles’’ across river systems.

‘‘These projects will give our native fish a fighting chance in our sections of the Murray, Darling and Edward Rivers.’’

Communitie­s are encouraged to apply for the remaining funding in two additional rounds in mid-2021.

For more informatio­n go to www.agricultur­e.gov.au/water/ mdb/programs/basin-wide/ healthy-rivers-program.

 ??  ?? ■ Edward Wakool Angling Associatio­n and Deniliquin Lagoons Landcare Group members Roseanne Farrant and Dan Hutton preparing plants for round 1 of revegetati­on, within the Edward River ski zone at Deniliquin.
■ Edward Wakool Angling Associatio­n and Deniliquin Lagoons Landcare Group members Roseanne Farrant and Dan Hutton preparing plants for round 1 of revegetati­on, within the Edward River ski zone at Deniliquin.

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