NSW’s first fish lift to save the endangered Grayling - Minister Phillip Costa - 23 August 2009
Native fish in the Shoalhaven are now riding the largest fish lift of its kind in Australia, after completion of a major river health project at Tallowa Dam, NSW Minister for Water, Phil Costa announced today.
Minister Costa joined the Member for Kiama, Matt Brown to officially open the $26 million project including a major upgrade to the dam to allow for new environmental flow releases downstream.
"This is a $26 million investment into improving the health of one of NSW's most important river systems," Minister Costa said.
"This fish lift is a first for NSW and is the largest fish lift to be fitted to an existing dam in Australia.
"The new infrastructure will allow an increase in the amount of water released downstream from 90 million litres of water a day to peaks of more than 370 million litres per day - providing significant environmental benefits for the whole system.
"The increase in environmental flows and the new fish lift will help protect 10 native fish species, including the endangered Grayling, by improving the health of the river and allowing them to migrate between the lower and upper Shoalhaven River.
"The dam has been a barrier to the migration of native fish since it was built in the 1970s, the new mechanical fish lift restores full access for fish species to 75 percent of the Shoalhaven River system.
"Last year I announced a three year halt to water supply transfers from Tallowa Dam to improve the health of the river and these important environmental flows and the new fish lift build on this important environmental work.
"The lift towers some 30 metres of track over the dam wall with a bucket carrying 2,500 litres of water.
"Fish will now also be able to travel over the dam downstream more safely with a new downstream fishway."
The Member for Kiama, Matt Brown said Tallowa Dam has been re-opened to the public with improved viewing area, new interpretive signage and new picnic facilities.
"This fish lift will be a popular attraction for visitors to the region, who can see the lift in action helping fish in the Shoalhaven," Mr Brown said.
"The Tallowa Dam picnic area has been upgraded as part of the works and is now open for families to enjoy in time for Spring.
"Now with the works completed at the dam, the new environmental flows have started - these new flows are designed to better mimic natural river flows and will see much more water released downstream overall.
"This is great news for the health of this important river and the native plants and animals that inhabit the area. "
Peter Harding President of the Southern Bass Fishing Club welcomed the upgrade, saying a new offtake at the dam will improve the temperature of water released downstream and helps attract fish to the new fish lift.
"This is a major improvement to the dam and the health of the river - from the tiny plankton to the larger fish that feed on them, and the water quality as a whole," Mr Harding said.
"This project will benefit hundreds of people who use the area for fishing and recreation - we're going to see fish grow bigger and stronger with access to better food in the system.
"The new water releases will significantly improve the water downstream, which will benefit not only Bass, but the several other species in the area."