Giving fish a say

Thursday, 5 February 1998

University of Adelaide scientists will develop a new computer model to help landowners and other groups assess the potential environmental damage caused to inland rivers by irrigation.

Called DRY/WET, the computer model is aimed at providing pastoralists, irrigators, water resource managers and conservationists with detailed information about how irrigation affects rivers.

The name DRY/WET reflects the flood/drought cycles of inland rivers. Over the last few years there has been a national debate over proposals to establish irrigation on two of these rivers ­ Cooper Creek and the Paroo.

"Water withdrawals from the Murray-Darling rivers have caused many environmental problems," says Mr Jim Puckridge, Principal Scientific Investigator on the project and research officer with the University of Adelaide's Department of Zoology.

"If we are going to make wise decisions about using the waters of the arid zone, we must understand the likely ecological costs.

"Predicting the environmental effects is extremely difficult because these rivers are wildly variable, and there is very little data on them," he says.

Mr Puckridge says the project team will develop the DRY/WET computer model using a unique database gathered over five years in the Coongie Lakes region of the lower Cooper.

"This database links river flow with responses of fish and other animals. It will be used to try to predict what effects water withdrawals would have on these creatures of the river."

The DRY/WET model will be publicly released on CD-ROM and also as a book late in 1998. The project, which involves the University of Adelaide's Department of Zoology and the Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology, is funded under the National Wetlands Research and Development Program.

Scientists involved in the project are inviting input from industry representatives, water resource managers, conservationists and pastoralists.


Contact Details

Mr Jim Puckridge
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5689

Ms Robyn Mills
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 6341
Mobile: +61 410 689 084

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762