By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Melbourne Water has defended its wildlife welfare practices during its works to create a wetland at Troups Creek West reserve, Narre Warren.
Nearby resident Ray Darbritz said he’d seen fish trapped and gasping in pools of “10 inches of water” as a result of the retarding basin being drained and infilled.
“They can be seen swimming close to the water surface which is a behaviour I have not seen before.
“They would be distressed as the water is significantly lower and much, much smaller.
“The water body is also a lot more shallow so the body of water will be a lot hotter.”
Melbourne Water has hired an ecologist and an environmental adviser to ensure that aquatic species and birds are “appropriately protected and relocated”.
“A large number of European Carp have been found in the wetland area,” Melbourne Water project manager Jason Brown said.
“Carp are considered a noxious species under the Fisheries Act and cannot be relocated, so these fish will be euthanised in a humanely manner by an ecologist.”
Mr Darbritz said Melbourne Water had only acted to euthanise the carp after he raised his concerns this month.
He also heard of reports of pelican having to be freed by workers after it was stuck in the muddy banks.
“I don’t know how you manage adult and young pelicans. How do you catch them and relocate them?
“There is a bulldozer pushing mud in a wetland area. It’s a huge disturbance.
“I don’t know how you can work in wetlands without impacting on wildlife. There’s not a chance in hell.”
The upgrade is designed to help the wetland better filter stormwater, which flows through the local drainage system and into Port Phillip.
Melbourne Water also states that the increased habitat complexity will support more native animals.
The project includes new drainage lines, silt removal and a new pedestrian footbridge.
Mr Brown said works to protect the retarding basin’s embankment were almost complete, with topsoiling and seeding of the area to come. Most of the upgrade will be finished by Christmas.
“Once the grass is at a suitable length, fencing will be removed from this area and it will be reopened to the public.”
Vegetation would be planted within the wetland in early 2018.