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Friday, April 12, 2024

Recent fish deaths reignite management frustration part 2

For six generations, the Lunghusen mob has been working the land along Gunbower Creek. But with the recent fish deaths, Jason Lunghusen is having a fair crack at questioning how the creek’s being managed and just how much say the locals get in these top-down government gigs.

“Fair dinkum, the creek’s like our own backyard, and no one knows it better than us locals,” reckons Jason.

He’s giving the Hipwell Regulator on Gunbower Creek a fair roasting as an example of how little the community’s smarts count when the government’s calling the shots.

“I’ve had a gutful trying to talk to the North Central Catchment mob because they’ve just brushed us all aside,” he says.

When the creek’s flow exceeded its limits, Jason and his mates ended up with their low-lying lands and pumps underwater. They’d warned the authorities that the planned water release was a dud idea, but no one listened.

“They were dead set on shoving all that water down the creek, even though it’s as narrow as a dingo’s grin,” Jason grumbles. “And what happened? The whole joint got flooded. Pumps, farms, you name it.”

After the flooding fiasco, there was a big powwow with the landholders, Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Goulburn-Murray Water, and the North Central Catchment Management Authority. They finally admitted they’d cocked up the flow calculations for Hipwell’s Regulator, basing it on Gunbower Creek’s offload capacity rather than its actual flow limits downstream.

No one’s sure how much dosh could’ve been saved by building the regulator to handle the creek’s true flow or even at lower rates. But Jason’s sure of one thing: the creek’s copping it rough.

“They’re chucking way too much water down there for way too long,” he says. “The banks are copping a hiding, trees are toppling in, and that just makes the flow even worse.”

This erosion saga ain’t new for Gunbower Creek. Mal Johnson was already sounding the alarm back in 2020, warning that the new management regime was chewing up the riverbank faster than a hungry croc at a Barbie.

And it ain’t just Jason raising eyebrows. Dr. Peter Barker OAM piped up on the North Central CMA’s Facebook page, reckonin’ the water quality’s taken a nosedive in recent years. He’s too wary to take a dip, worried if it’s from all the environmental tinkering or the big mussel die-off after last year’s blackwater event.

But the challenges don’t stop there. Carp breeding like rabbits, bloody pests, in the forest ain’t doing the creek any favors. North Central CMA’s closing off the fishway to keep these buggers at bay, but it’s a constant battle.

Looks like the state and federal governments have got their hands full. Let’s see if they’ve got any ripper ideas up their sleeves to sort out these carp and save our native species from going the way of the dodo.

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