We dodged the blackwater bullet

By The General on December 05, 2016
  • We dodged the blackwater bullet

    This is blackwater from the Pranjip Creek entering the Goulburn back in the Summer.

The Boss has been uptight about these blackwater events - they've been killing heaps of cod up on the Edwards,  and down the Murray below Lake Victoria. 

He likes catching a cod more than he likes scratching me and says these big breeder fish dying is a terrible waste. I don't care much myself: I like to roll in a dead fish when I can find one, and if it's particularly skanky I might even eat it. 

Mind you, I can't afford to let him see me doing that because he goes right off.  And even when he doesn't see me doing it, he seems to know when I've done it - probably spying on me. 

He drags me to the tap by the laundry and sprays warm water on me - then he covers me in dollops of this foul-smelling Woolmix. Lathers it all up and grabs me by the ear while he hoses it all off. Takes the fun out of it, I can tell you. A dog has a good mind to find a cow pat to roll in after that - but that sends the boss into apoplexy.

Anyway, the blackwater. Back in the summer we had a bit down the Goulburn and The Boss had these fellers from the Catchment Management Authority come out to have a look at it  - it hadn't reached them downstream yet but they had a good idea where it might be coming from.

Sure enough, they came back with these photos from the Pranjip Creek up the river a bit. That creek doesn't run much, so it gathers a lot of leaf litter over spring and summer and it kinda rots underneath - you get a sudden downpour and it all leaches out.

So I hear the boss grumbling to them about all this supposed environmental water and asking them to use it to clear up the blackwater, like to water it down a bit. Isn't that what it's for, he asked?

They told the boss the trouble with that idea is that the environmental water can't catch it. It might be let go at Nagambie, but it can never catch the slug of blackwater because its all going downriver at the same speed. 

He's a bit thick, the boss - I heard him say he never realised that but it made sense to him, now he thought about it. I could have told him that myself. The only way you're going to catch that blackwater is with a good strong dog, like me - a Chessie - who powers along faster than the river flow. I could catch it, no worries. I have sort of webbed feet, you know, like a duck or a platypus. Well, maybe not that webbed, but a bit webbed.

I can swim pretty quick downriver - not quite fast enough to catch a duck, though -  I reckon they're teasing me sometimes; they kinda suck me in so I think I'm catching them, then they dive down. I go down too, but I forget to stop breathing and it all gets complicated.

So the summer blackwater didn't turn out to be too bad after all. The CMA boys said they were taking lots of samples downriver to make sure there was enough oxygen for the fish, which in turn meant there weren't any dead ones for me.

I was expecting a good harvest of dead fish after the high river in the Spring - the first flood came up into billabongs that hadn't seen water in twenty years so they were full of rotten gum leaves and they went filthy black in a week.

But then the second flood came down in October - a bigger one than the first - and flushed it all out. The CMA blokes said there were reduced oxygen levels downstream of the Loch but the Goulburn got away with it. Unlike the Edwards and the lower Murray.

Dodged a bullet, The Boss says.

By The General on December 05, 2016

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