WBW backs out of building new Burrum River fishway

WIDE Bay Water is not going to build a new fishway on the Burrum River's No 1 dam because of its multi-million dollar price tag.

WBW chairman Cliff Searle said last month the board decided the money would be better spent on other infrastructure.

He said despite earlier reports, there was no condition on WBW to build a new fishway when Lenthalls Dam was raised in 2007.

Mr Searle said it was just that a previous board had decided to build it when they were able to receive a 40% subsidy from the State Government which had since lapsed.

A Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry spokesman said the board's decision contradicted previous written correspondence in which WBW committed to construction.

"DAFF is assessing the implications of the board's decision on an approval previously issued by DAFF for the raising of Lenthalls Dam," he said.

Environmentalist Graham Berry said there was talk of including a fishway when raising Lenthalls but that was not feasible because of its height of 20-odd metres so instead they agreed to build a new fishway at the No 1 weir.

He said the new fishway was needed to prevent thousands of fish dying at the base of the dam because they could not return to freshwater after spawning in the saltwater.

Mr Searle said he did not believe the decision would lead to fish dying and said there had been no particular adverse affects since Lenthalls Dam was raised.

But Mr Berry said thousands of fish died in 2008 because they couldn't get back into the fresh.

"It's just a matter of time before there's another major fish kill," Mr Berry said.

Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell said people didn't want their rates to go up for pay for the fishway.

But in September 2010, WBW said $3.2 million had already been set aside to build the new fishway to ensure it was completed before the end of 2012-13.

Cr O'Connell added there was not strong proof fishways were successful.

But Mr Berry said consultants hired by WBW had been satisfied a fishway would work and had completed a preliminary design.

Call for State Govt funding

WIDE Bay Burnett Environment Council president Roger Currie says he'll be disappointed if a new fishway is not built on the Burrum River's No 1 weir.

"It's unfortunate if money's the only constraint," he said.

"We'd urge Anne Maddern to seek out State Government funding.

"If she can find $5 million for a boat ramp (at Burrum Heads) - it's sort of funny that we say we need a boat ramp but we don't really care about the fish in the river.

"It's something that was planned to do and it's had its real positives."

Maryborough MP Anne Maddern said she was seeking to understand the initial approval and any changes that might have been made and the implications.

"Until I have that information, I don't think it's appropriate to say anything," she said.

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