Sunny outlook for native fish habitat

Friday 15 February, 2019
Large grey-box stumps removed during Downer’s construction of Neoen’s Numurkah Solar Farm are now providing habitat for native fish in the Nine Mile Creek west of Numurkah.

Goulburn Broken CMA Project Officer Corey Wilson said 25 of the stumps were placed as snags in the creek at the end of Sharps Rd upstream of the Broken Creek junction recently.

“The solar farm approached us about re-using the stumps for a river health project, which we really appreciated,” Mr Wilson said. “This stretch of the creek has very little habitat so placing these large snags will provide shelter for native fish such as golden perch and Murray cod.”

Neoen Australia Managing Director Franck Woitiez said all Neoen projects aimed to protect, retain and restore natural resources and the environment.

“We worked closely with Downer and our ecology partners to assess a site and make decisions that minimised our development’s impact on flora and fauna,” Mr Woitiez said. “We are glad to be able to find a sustainable use for the tree stumps, and look forward to delivering more reliable and competitive energy to the people of Victoria once Numurkah begins commercial operations in May.”   

Snags are sometimes referred to as inland equivalent of coastal reefs and provide habitat for native fish and other animals such as turtles and native water rats (rakali). Native fish use them to shelter from fast currents and sunlight as well as for refuge from predators. Native fish also use snags as feeding and spawning sites, and as nursery areas for juvenile fish.  Close to a 1000 snags have now been placed in the lower Broken and Nine Mile creeks between Numurkah and Nathalia since 2011.

“The snags, as well as the base flows along the system, improve in-stream habitat and water quality, leading to a more robust native fish community,” Mr Wilson said.

“Monitoring shows that there has been an increase in both species around re-snagged areas and a large increase in shrimp, an important food source for large bodied native fish, which is all good news for recreational fishers in our region.”

Executive Director of Downer’s Utilities business Trevor Cohen said, “This is a great example of a close partnership with our customer, Neoen, and the community to deliver environmental benefits locally. The team should be congratulated on how they have kept their local community top of mind during the construction process.”

 Numurkah Solar Farm is a 128 megawatt renewable energy project. When finished it will generate over 255 gigawatt hours of emission-free, clean, competitive renewable energy a year.