JUNE 19 2020 – 8:00PM
Over 30 farms are set to benefit from the installation of brand new, innovative fish screens that will cover irrigation pipelines up and down the Murray Darling Basin.
The farming co-operative, representing 33 members in the Trangie and Nevertire area, are set to be the first irrigators to see how the screens function in practice after the Trangie-Nevertire Irrigation Scheme partnered with the program.
“There’s always been a definite benefit for us in saving the environment,” Mr Smith said.
“Every time I turn my pipe’s pumps off, I’m always picking fish out of the well that sits on top and having to place them back in the river.”
Fish, and other debris, can be entrained into the currently existing water extraction system and cause a wealth of issues, including blockages that can stop the flow of water and damage that can incur costly repairs.
“All those outlets will get the benefit from these screenings; in the warmer months, we get a lot of slime and things like that coming in from the which blocks irrigation flows,” Mr Smith said.
“It’ll stop them from being consistent across all our paddocks and all the leaves and grass and stuff like that as well, it’s going to save us a lot in terms of operating costs, because we no longer have to backflush our pumps.”
“Not having to get out of bed at 1 o’clock in the morning and unblock sprinklers, plus we get better returns on crops because the water’s being spread out in a more reliable way, that can add up to a lot of dollars at the end of the year.”
Mr Smith, who uses an electric pump system with a diesel based backup, says the cost of restarting and checking the pump system every time there’s an issue has become significant.
“Every time we flick a pump on and off, it increases our demand charges and those costs are quite significant,” Mr Smith said.
“Reducing operational costs is a huge benefit, but the aim for TNIS in trialling this, we’re hoping it’s a win-win for both parties, the environment and us, we’re hoping down the track we’ll be able to free up some more funding for other farmers to take part too.”
Environmental concerns are also at the forefront of Mr Smith’s mind, with a number of fish having been destroyed during intake.
“Sometimes the fish have marks on them where they’ve been hit on the way coming through, sometimes they’ve been chopped in half, which is a very sad thing to see,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith also said that among the fish that have been pumped have been Blue Gudgeon, an endangered species.