A Mooroopna resident has criticised the koala bridge built near Mywee as a 'joke' and wants more to be done to stop animals from drowning in plastic-lined channels.By Sophie Malcolm
A Mooroopna resident says a bridge designed to prevent koalas drowning in plastic-lined channels is a ‘‘quick fix’’ and a ‘‘joke’’.
The bridge, constructed near Mywee in December, uses wooden poles to create a crossing point to minimise the risk of koalas slipping on the smooth plastic used to line the channel.
Goulburn-Murray Water oversaw the construction of the bridge.
However, Deborah Lynch says more needs to be done to prevent animal drownings in the channels.
‘‘Personally, I think it’s a bit of a joke really,’’ Mrs Lynch said.
‘‘I think it’s like the channels, it’s a quick-fix, they’re just taking the quickest, easiest option.’’
She said there were other options for ensuring water efficiency.
‘‘There are other options, clay lining, rock,’’ she said.
Mrs Lynch has photos of dogs, kangaroos, birds and other animals that she said had drowned in the channels.
She became concerned when the project first began in 2008.
‘‘It wasn’t long after the water went in that we found a drowned kangaroo,’’ she said.
‘‘The scratches (on the plastic) around that area would have covered a tennis court easily.’’
Mrs Lynch said safety measures, such as fencing and escape mats, often had gaps or were poorly maintained.
Ardmona resident Bill Boyer said his two Shetland sheepdogs, Gypsy and Jordy, drowned in a channel he believed wasn’t adequately fenced.
He said more needed to be done to prevent future drownings.
‘‘I just don’t even like thinking about it,’’ Mrs Lynch said.
‘‘At the end of the day, it’s human lives that could be lost.’’
Goulburn-Murray Water connection project director George Warne denied the koala bridge was a ‘‘quick fix’’ and said independent consultants had provided advice on it.
Mr Warne said nobody wanted to see animals drown.
‘‘As an organisation, we recognise we’ve got environmental responsibilities and we’ve got .
‘‘Certainly our concern has been focused on where the koalas are and that’s been based obviously on very heavily wooded areas.
‘‘There aren’t many areas, because we’re doing such a small length of channel with the plastic lining, that is a heavily wooded area with a koala habitat and has a channel.
‘‘We’re hoping that the bridge provides part of the solution to that problem.
‘‘We think it’s a fit for purpose option .
Mr Warne said G-MW was increasingly investigating different options for lining the channels including clay, the preferred option, but were faced with the cost and difficulty of transporting it.
He said the organisation had fencing and safety guidelines in place and ran an annual campaign to alert people about channel safety.
Mr Warne said G-MW also had a ‘‘rigorous’’ maintenance and inspection program and encouraged anyone who spotted maintenance issues to phone the organisation’s 24-hour phone line.
‘‘We’re very keen to listen and to reduce the risk,’’ he said.
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