Residents and members of environmental groups are eager to show the importance of Mount Cole Creek in the hope authorities will try and restore it.
Members of Crowlands-Warrak Landcare Group, Project Platypus, and Biolinks Alliance, along with people living on or near the creek, have become increasingly concerned with its health.
They are hoping Wimmera Catchment Management Authority uses the nearby Mount Cole Creek Reservoir to supply the creek with small volumes of water to keep it running year-round.
Mount Cole Reservoir is situated on Spring Creek, a tributary of Mount Cole Creek.
In 1986 the reservoir was expanded, enabling it to store a greater volume of water.
Paul Harrington is a member of Crowlands-Warrak Landcare Group and owns property on Mount Cole Creek. He said since the reservoir was enlarged, Mount Cole Creek has sufferer.
"The creek never stopped running, not even during the 1983 drought. The first time it stopped running was the year they doubled the size of the reservoir," he said.
"Since 86' it's been declining. We used to have a little colony of platypus up Spring Creek that fed off Mount Cole Creek because that's where the water used to flow before they dammed the reservoir.
"All the larger fish come back up from the Wimmera and then die during the summer because we've got no environmental flows. So we end up with the little fellows because the pools get too small for the larger fish."
In April 2019, Mount Cole Creek had stopped flowing, and the pools of water that remained were often several metres apart.
Members of Project Platypus, Biolinks Alliance and Landcare had begun to fret the creek had become almost completely void of fish life.
Wimmera Catchment Management Authority was contracted to survey the waters through electrofishing.
Electrofishing involves a current being sent through a body of water that stuns fish and brings them to the surface where they can easily be collected.
Crowlands-Warrak Landcare Group chairperson and Project Platypus board member Mark McKew owns property on Mount Cole Creek.
He said he had been astonished by what the electrofishing revealed.
"The thought was it might have been a dead creek and we were all pleasantly surprised with what turned up," he said.
"They found pygmy perch, obscure galaxias, gudgeon, and western swamp crayfish (which are listed as 'threatened' under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988).
"Even after all those dry years, we've still got the basis here of all those little critters living in the creek."
This, along with a further survey in December 2019, helped establish the creek's importance to the upper Wimmera River system.
There are hopes the survey scheduled for June 2021 will be even more revealing, as it will be the first time electrofishing has been done in Mount Cole Creek while it is flowing.
Mr Harrington said the survey's findings could encourage the authorities to help sustain the creek's flow using water from Mount Cole Reservoir.
"The disappointing part for me is that during all those dry years the reservoir was full. We could have used just a little bit to keep things going," he said.
"We're hoping they will turn the tap on, but we don't need it all year; we probably only need it from November to May, the rest of the year it does it itself, but we need to keep the critters alive when the stream stops running.
"As soon as it stops running it needs to be turned on. It doesn't need to be turned on much, just to keep the trickle going through there."
Project Platypus board member Michael Greene agreed maintaining the creek's flow was vital.
"When the river systems dry up it allows a great deal of vegetation to completely take over the stream so it inhibits the traffic of your native water species," he said.
"If we had an environmental flow it would discourage the vegetation taking over."
Mr Greene noted many still held hopes that platypus remained in the region.
"Since the droughts, particularly the Millennial Drought, the water flows have diminished significantly, and in most cases dried up, and there haven't been any sightings of platypus," he said.
"But there is a belief by some community members that platypus are still there and some say that they've seen them."
Due to the creek now running, Wimmera Catchment Management Authority will be using a bank-mounted electrofisher rather than backpack electrofishers.
Wimmera Catchment Management Authority waterways project and planning officer Greg Fletcher said he was eager to see what the survey uncovered.
"It will provide us with a really good snapshot of what is in the creek," he said.
"One thing we're really keen to find is whether river blackfish are in the creek. The initial surveys weren't able to find them but that would be great if we could."
Mr Fletcher said Wimmera Catchment Management Authority and GWMWater are investigating using the East Grampians Rural Pipeline to help keep Mount Cole Creek flowing.
"We're looking at opportunities to use the pipeline to drop some water into the creek from the reservoir," he said.
"It's a bit of a shortcut because if you let water out of the reservoir it's got to travel all the way down the hill, and it's a pretty small reservoir in the scheme of things, so you're not going to be able to access a lot of water."
With Wimmera Catchment Management Authority will contact landholders along the creek before conducting the electrofishing survey.
The survey will run on Thursday, June 24 and Friday, June 25, subject to COVID-19 restrictions.
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