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Koondrook fishway wins national award

Group of people dressed up holding an award and certificate.
6 Dec 2022

The design, construction, and operation of the new fishway at Koondrook Weir on Gunbower Creek has been recognised by industry peers across Victoria and Australia.

The fishway recently won the Innovation in Water Management category at the national River Basin Management Society’s awards night.

It was also Highly Commended at the Australian Water Association’s awards ceremony in early November.

North Central Catchment Management Authority led the fishway project, with Goulburn Murray Water designing and building it alongside principal contractor S&R Engineering and Construction.

The Victorian Environmental Water Holder and Victorian Government funded the project.

The Koondrook Weir was a barrier to fish migration between the creek and the Murray River for more than a century. Its construction, along with the construction of the Cohuna fishway, connects 140 kilometres of habitat in the creek with hundreds of kilometres of the river.

North Central CMA Major Projects Executive Manager Tim Shanahan said the key to the fishway’s design was its innovative nested dual chamber.

“Gunbower Creek is a working creek, a key part of the Torrumbarry Irrigation System, which means there can be significant differences in water levels either side of the weir,” he said.

“The challenge was to design a fishway that would enable fish of different sizes to safely travel upstream to new feeding and breeding habitats and all times of the year.

“It allows for a wide range of operation and fish movement during high flow events, which is when fish are on the move the most, as well as during low flows.

“In a natural flood like we have just had, it means fish could move through the system, including to escape low dissolved oxygen levels.”

GMW Infrastructure Delivery Services General Manager Warren Jose said he was pleased to see the project receiving industry recognition.

“It is great for our staff to see their work recognised by industry peers,” he said.

“The benefits to the environment and the local area are what we are most proud of, but we are also very appreciative of the awards recognition.”

Dr Sarina Loo, Co-CEO of the VEWH, said that these awards are recognition of the value of partnerships in improving waterway health.

“We congratulate everyone involved in this fantastic project. These awards have recognised the innovative fishway design and how working together can leverage great results.

"And for us, they’re yet another vote of confidence in the value of our collaborative partnership with North Central CMA, GMW and DELWP in the Victorian Environmental Watering Program.”

The fishway is part of the North Central Catchment Management Authority’s Native Fish Recovery Plan, which aims to create a world-class native fishery in the region.