Works undergo serious environmental planning

David Lee

The Connections Project has worked with the region’s environmental experts and the Tatura community to ensure a colony of more than 12,000 Grey and Red-Headed Flying Foxes, which call Cussen Park home during the Winter period, were protected while works were carried out recently.

Project Director Frank Fisseler said it was an excellent example of how the Project worked with the region’s environmental experts to create benefits to flora and fauna in our region.

“Throughout each and every works program, we have dedicated teams to ensure there are little to no adverse environmental impacts while we carry out the important job of modernising the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District irrigation system,” Mr Fisseler said.

“It is important for the Connections Project to minimise any impact to native flora and fauna and as standard practice, before we undertake any works, we consider how construction might affect the surrounding environment, including wildlife.”

The flying foxes play an important part in the ecosystem. They feed on fruit and blossoms from a wide range of native trees, introduced species and cultivated fruits and in doing so they provide essential pollination and seed dispersal services for our native plants and forest ecosystems.

During works to help modernise the irrigation system supplying three surrounding landowners, contractors altered their start and finish times to work within the times the flying foxes were less active, as well as started machinery away from Cussen Park to avoid sudden loud noises. Inspections were also carried out daily to locate the flying foxes prior to works beginning and the colony was monitored throughout the day.

Cussen Park Community Committee Member, Yvette Williams said, “We were impressed with the pre-planning that the Connections Project undertook. Pretty much everything had been considered. It is really great to see such care is taken for wildlife with these sort of operations.

“We were definitely pleased that the Connections Project consulted us. The flying foxes have been disturbed with previous works activities in the park and they can shift camp (to a less desirable location in town),” Yvette said.

“It was great that committee members could discuss the operation with the Project and impart some of our observations on the colony to assist with the management of them during the time works were carried out. The flying foxes didn’t really ‘bat’ an eyelid at the works which was great.”

The works will contribute to water savings through the replacement of 450m of high loss channel with a combination of irrigation and domestic and stock pipeline. Three new meter outlets were also installed to replace old Dethridge wheels.

Mr Fisseler said the $2 billion project was on-track for 2020 completion.

“This Victorian and Australian Government investment is continuing to convert the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District from an ageing, leaking inefficient system to a modern delivery network,” he said.

“Now more than 80 per cent complete the project is on target to achieve its key objective of a total of 429GL water savings by October 2020.”

The $2 billion Connections Project is Australia’s largest irrigation modernisation project and is funded by the Australian and Victorian Governments.

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