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New pump screens a boost for fish and farmers

Photo of an irrigation pump floating on a creek
8 May 2023

Local irrigators are being invited to express their interest in a new pump screen that will both save native fish and stop weeds from blocking their systems.

The North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is trialling two different pump screen designs and is keen to show them off to local farmers.

North Central CMA Project Officer Will Honybun said fish movement into channels and through pumps is one of the key factors behind the decline of native fish numbers in Gunbower Creek.

“Early observations have shown about 13 native fish are lost for every megalitre pumped,” he said.

“If we apply that across the Torrumbarry Irrigation Area it means huge numbers of native fish are being lost out of the system, with most killed in pumps.

“It’s not just fish either; yabbies, platypus, turtles and water rats can all be impacted as well.

“We recently installed two types of self-cleaning pump screens on Gunbower Creek through a pilot project to understand what difference they can make.”

The pumps also have a significant benefit to farmers, stopping weeds from collecting around the intake and disrupting pumping.

“The screens are cleaned as they operate, which means they stop everything, including weeds, and pumping isn’t interrupted,” Mr Honybun said.

“There’s no back flushing required or re-priming of pumps. There’s also less wear and tear and stress on both the intake pipe and the pump which can reduce operation and maintenance costs significantly over the life of the screen.

“At one site, early trials have resulted in increased pumping rates from about 12ML to almost 15ML a day. That means it’s quicker to irrigate bays, and there are lower power costs to achieve the same volume out on the farm.”

North Central CMA is holding a field event to showcase the screens on May 15, and is inviting interested irrigators to come along.

“The aim is to roll these screens out across the Torrumbarry Irrigation Area, but we need to gauge interest first,” Mr Honybun said.

“We’re asking farmers to register their interest with us to come along and see the screens in action, talk to one of the farmers involved, and get information from the manufacturers.

“If enough people express interest on the day, we can put forward a business case to government to subsidise them across the region.

Call the North Central CMA on (03) 5448 7124 by Thursday 11 May to find out location details and to register your attendance.