Fish deaths attributed to hypoxic blackwater that followed the 2016 flood event sparked a passionate response from the Edward-Wakool community who decided to address fish death in the river systems. One individual had created a homemade 'fish refuge' during the 2010-11 hypoxic events using a pump spray system he designed to temporarily increase the level of dissolved oxygen in the river. This idea motivated other community members to build or donate their own aeration devices. These aerators were installed in October and November of 2016, with three sites on the Edward river and two sites on the Wakool river. Field observations noted that fish, turtles and crustaceans spent time near the aerators.
The community response brought people together from many walks of life for a common cause and provided a sense of action in an otherwise helpless situation. Landholder Tim exphasised: "If I save one fish I'll be happy...my conscience doesn't allow me to just sit here and do nothing."
Murray LLS have since funded a report to document this community initiative. The report outlined opportunities to improve the response process in the future. This involved contingency planning such as volunteer engagement, site selection, equipment reviews and ongoing communication of the project to potential collaborators. At the time of writing this case study, several angling clubs had expressed interest in funding their own aerators for use in the future. However, a larger scale coordinated approach is necessary to tackle future blackwater situations, with planning occurring at least a year in advance to ensure quick response, thus reducing overall fish death.
A follow up funding application was successful to purchase a solar powered aerator that could be located at a prime location (e.g. slack water), rather than poitioned at a site that was dependant on mains power. This aerator has been purchased and is currently at my residence awaiting installation in late 2018.