Iconic stream dries up

By Geoff Adams

Seven Creeks is drying up as the drought begins to bite.

The spring-fed creek, which has its origins in the Strathbogie Ranges, is home to unique, self-sustaining trout cod and Macquarie perch populations.

Although not yet under threat in the upper reaches, the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority has plans to intervene if the flow ceases in the most sensitive areas.

Much of the creek, in the lower reaches between Euroa and Shepparton, where it enters the Goulburn, has been reduced to water holes.

According to the Arthur Rylah Institute, which does fish survey work for Goulburn Broken CMA, the Seven Creeks system has experienced extremely low flows since spring 2018, with water levels the lowest since the cease-to-flow event in late 2015.

“Fortunately the creek continued to maintain flows through critical refuge habitats between Polly McQuinns and Galls Gap Rd,” the most recent report said.

Euroa residents Ian and June Lewis worry about the health of the nearby creek when the water ceases to flow.

They appreciate Seven Creeks is an ephemeral stream (it dried up in 2006) but they also talk about how changing land use and the creek's condition impact on the environment.

Mr Lewis is concerned that increasing silting is changing the creek and making it more susceptible to flooding, once the flows return.

The couple — who are part of the environmental group, Friends of the Sevens — enjoy seeing azure kingfishers, king parrots and spoonbills, as well as brushtail and ringtail possums. Platypus and squirrel gliders have also been reported nearby.

“But a lot of birds have moved on with the dry conditions,” Mr Lewis said.

Goulburn Broken CMA environmental water manager Simon Casanelia said with little or no rain over the past few weeks, flows in some sections of the smaller creeks and some Goulburn River and Broken River tributaries were either very low or had stopped completely.

The main risk to native fish when that happens, is when oxygen levels in the water drop and fish become stranded in small, unconnected pools.

“Native fish and other aquatic wildlife generally try and move to shaded areas and deeper water during warmer weather, which is why the work we’ve done with the community to re-snag and revegetate waterways is so important,” Mr Casanelia said.

He said late last week, Seven Creeks was still flowing from Strathbogie through Polly McQuinns to Galls Gap Rd. Below that stretch, the creek had become a series of pools since December.

However, Mr Casanelia said it was not unusual for the flow to stop in some parts in dry periods.

He said the CMA was not yet concerned for the two threatened fish species, but was in regular contact with the Arthur Rylah Institute who do the fish surveys.

He said there were several options available if their situation deteriorated, including translocation to other streams or to the institute, until the danger passed.