Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Too close for comfort: a fishway exit and a hydro-power station inlet

Ivor G. Stuart A B C , John D. Koehn A , Tim A. O’Brien A , John A. McKenzie A and Gerry P. Quinn B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, PO Box 137, Heidelberg, Vic. 3084, Australia.

B Present address: School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Warrnambool, Vic. 3280, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 61(1) 23-33
Submitted: 14 December 2008  Accepted: 3 June 2009   Published: 29 January 2010


A major environmental issue for hydro-electric power generation is passage of fish through turbines, or entrainment onto trash racks. At Yarrawonga Weir, on the upper Murray River in south-eastern Australia, the positioning of a fish lock resulted in the potential for upstream migrating fish to be swept back into the adjacent power station by cross flows. In 2004, a 4.5-m long steel extension flume was attached to the exit to alleviate this problem. To determine the fate of native fish after exiting the extension flume, 72 individuals (305–1015 mm long) were implanted with radio-transmitters and released into the fish lock exit channel. In 2004 (power station inflows 10 300 ML day–1), the majority of fish exited successfully (44 of 45) and only a single fish (2%) was entrained into the power station. In 2005 (power station inflows 12 000 ML day–1), fish again exited successfully (26 of 27) but with a higher proportion entrained (5 of 27; 18%). This reduced success appeared to be related to strong transverse flows with high water velocities adjacent to the fish lock exit. The efficiency of fish passage at this site might be improved by altering water management strategies, integrating engineering and fish biology, and through field-testing of proposed solutions.

Additional keywords: Australia, fish lock, migration, Murray River, potamodromous.


At Yarrawonga Weir we thank staff from Goulburn-Murray Water for extensive on-site assistance, including Tony Beamish, Andrew Gillingham, Pat Doyle, Peter Klowss and Luke Cruikshank. Funding for the study was provided by the Murray–Darling Basin Commission and we sincerely thank John Prentice and Jim Barrett. Adam Vey, NSW Department of Primary Industries, provided logistical support. From the Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) we thank Andrew Pickworth, Karl Pomorin, Justin O’Mahony, Andy Bearlin and Peter Stapleton for their expert technical support. Matt Jones, ARI, drafted Fig. 1 and Tim Marsden Fig. 2. Thanks to Martin Mallen-Cooper for helpful discussions on the ecology of migratory fish at Yarrawonga. Lee Baumgartner, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI), and two anonymous referees improved an earlier draft of the manuscript. This work was carried out under NSW DPI collecting Permit F93/158 and Permit No: 01/15 under the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes.


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