AN Inverloch resident living close to Ayr Creek has described recent excavation works to the waterway as “misinformed environmental vandalism.”
Simon Henderson says he recently spent hours rescuing dozens of freshwater fish trapped in shallow pools in the creek due to too much water being drained.
The works, which included vegetation removal along the banks of the creek, were undertaken by Bass Coast Shire Council in an effort to alleviate flooding problems in the surrounding area.
Mr Henderson praised the shire for taking much-needed action to address residents’ drainage woes, but he believes more care could have been taken in the process.
“The fish are attempting to swim upstream and getting caught in pools only one inch deep,” he explained.
“If (contractors) had been able to dig some deeper pools into the river bed, this would have left some structure for the fish.
“If there had been a few more pools dug and a tiny bit of flow, there wouldn’t be this problem.”
Mr Henderson said he rescued the fish, believed to be of the Spotted Galaxias variety, in buckets by hand and transferred them to deeper water.
He hopes extra rain filling the shallow pools could also help the fish to move more freely.
“I think (the council) has done what it set out to do, but they must not have been aware of the fish population residing in this area,” he added.
“It did need doing.
“I’ve seen Diane Place completely underwater with lots of sand bagging and panic going on.
“It just would’ve been good if this work could have been done in a more ‘fish friendly’ way.”
Another nearby resident and member of the South Gippsland Conservation Society, Ed Thexton, said he was also disappointed the council didn’t engage with the community before the diggers rolled in.
Well-versed in the history of the drainage works needed, Mr Thexton said he was also concerned about remedial works.
“I understand this work needs to be done – we don’t want to see anyone’s house flooded – but are they going to stabilise it or plant it up, or do they just think it will sort itself out?” he questioned.
“If (the council) wanted to get people heckled up, they’ve done a good job.”
‘More work’ to be done
Council’s asset management manager, Jamie Sutherland, told the Sentinel-Times works at Ayr Creek are not complete and have been postponed until “the conditions are more favourable”, despite it being the start of winter.
“In the meantime, we have achieved our goals and are confident that the works completed will benefit the landowners that previously were at risk from flooding,” Mr Sutherland said
“The works involved some vegetation removal and excavation works, as well as upgrades to pipes and construction of a levee bank.”
“During works, council received many positive comments from local residents.
“There is an environmental management plan in place that was required to receive permits for the works.
“While the works were going on, we relocated some fish into a deep water hole that is part of the Ayr creek system.
“The situation is currently being monitored.”