Catch Mudgee's free community barbecue and learn about boost to native fish

For the first time, water releases in the Cudgegong River will target threatened native fish in a bid to support their breeding cycles.

A peaceful scene showing a small, still river with green, yellow and brown foliage at its banks, grey clouds above and a silhouetted mountain in the distance

Water is being released into the Cudgegong for 3 weeks in October with further small releases into February to help boost endangered freshwater catfish and river blackfish populations.

You can find out how native fish will benefit from the planned 9,000 megalitres across spring and summer at a community barbecue in Lawson Park East Mudgee on Wednesday evening, 1 November, though make sure you RSVP for catering purposes.

People upstream of Mudgee will see water levels temporarily rise by up to 60 cm at the Rocky Waterhole bridge for around 21 days in late October and early November. During summer, fish nesting flows will see water levels rise by around 2–5 cm.

NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) Senior Wetlands and Rivers Conservation Officer Tim Hosking said the river ecosystems were complex and fascinating.

'We’ve timed our environmental water flows to boost river productivity just before the fish nesting period starts for northern river blackfish and freshwater catfish,' Mr Hosking said.

'The flow will benefit all river-nesting fish, including the Murray cod and purple-spotted gudgeon, as well as yabbies, mussels, platypus, and rakali, fondly known as water rats.

'A "fresh" down the river in late October generates nutrients, drives the food chain, and sparks aquatic invertebrate activity, benefitting the whole river ecosystem.'

Following Windamere Dam’s rules changing on 1 July, the previous automatic releases triggered by dam inflows were swapped out for rules allowing more targeted management.

The DPE worked closely with the Macquarie Cudgegong Environmental Water Advisory Group (EWAG) to develop a set of objectives and actions to support native fish.

Macquarie-Cudgegong EWAG chair Ian Rogan said monitoring is underway to measure outcomes.

'We are working with key government agencies responsible for environmental water management, native fish populations, and other environmental conditions to start monitoring trends in response to the water releases,' Mr Rogan said.

'Results will be reported to the EWAG each year, and over time we will build up knowledge and identify trends.'

Six EWAG members represent community, local government, and environmental interests along the Cudgegong River. The free community BBQ will be held on Wednesday 1 November at Lawson Park East Mudgee from 5:30 pm to 8 pm. Please RSVP for catering purposes to Note: the council car park is closed from 6:30 pm.

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