Lifestyle

Springing to action to save the platypus

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September 09, 2017

THE Campaspe River will get a spring clean soon increasing platypus numbers after a generation was ‘‘wiped out’’ during last year’s floods.

A reasonably dry summer followed last year’s wet spring with another dry summer expected later this year.

It means the river’s red gums, vegetation, fish and platypus need to be fed and watered if they are to survive the coming dry period.

Leaf litter from the red gums sits on various levels of the river bank also needs to be flushed down to avoid ‘‘disaster’’.

‘‘It’s the time of the year to give the river a spring clean and freshen it up for the vital seasons ahead,” North Central Catchment Management Authority project manager Darren White said.

‘‘Over the past few years, our watering program has produced exciting results for the Campaspe.

‘‘We have seen silver perch reach sections of the river they haven’t been seen in more than a decade, and we have seen an increase in the numbers of Murray cod and golden perch.

‘‘Our spring river flows will help stimulate the growth of their food – waterbugs – and will prompt the fish to move further up the river to breed.’’

Mr White said two flows in August and October would help the fish and platypus survive during spring and give the banks a much-needed clean.

“Along some sections of the river there has been significant build-up of leaf litter and debris,” he said.

“This needs to be flushed away before it gets too hot. If it’s not, and there is a high flow in summer, it will wash into the river and could cause a toxic blackwater event.

“If we flush it down the river now, it will break down when the weather is cooler, providing a nutrient boom for fish and platypus.”

Mr White said flows were started last year but were stopped when the floods hit.

‘‘Obviously, we will do the same this year if needed,” Mr White said.

“We may actually need less water this year than we have planned, with Goulburn Murray Water expected to release water for irrigators around the same time. If this happens, some water for the environment will stay in the reservoir for the peak recreation period.

“The Campaspe River is a shining example of what responsible healthy-river management can do, and showcases the impacts the Victorian Government’s Water for Victoria plan can have on waterways and communities.”

The flows are part of the Victorian Government’s $222 million investment over the next four years to improve the health of waterways and catchments.

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