Bird Islands in Dams

Subject: Bird Islands in Dams
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2007 16:10:48 +1100

I work in the heritage industry and I anticipate that your proposal to
create islands where there were none will not be welcomed.

Are there less expensive and less intrusive (in terms of the historic
values) options such as aquatic vegetation or pontoons that will provide
safe habitat?



             Jim Smart                                                     
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             birding-aus-bounc                                          cc 
                                       [Birding-Aus] Bird Islands in Dams  
             11/12/07 08:45 PM                                             

Walka Water Works at Maitland, NSW was built around 1885. A large dam
was constructed and engines made by James Watt and Co. used to pump
water from the Hunter River, purify it, then pump it to Newcastle and
the Lower Hunter Valley coal mining villages. The works have long ceased
to supply water and are now an historical site and nature reserve.

Recently control of Walka Water Works passed from the NSW Department of
Works to Maitland City Council. The Council have now hired a consultant,
Corkery Consulting, to assist in the preparation of a new management
plan for Walka Water Works. Members of the Hunter Bird Observers Club
have prepared a submission to Maitland City Council, pushing for the
area to be preserved as a Nature Reserve and Historic Site. One proposal
we made was for some of the shoreline of the original impoundment to be
altered so as to form an island or islands as bird sanctuary's. Foxes
are often seen in the area.

A good case can be made for constructing islands in dams for the benefit
of birds. Also a good case can be made for not significantly altering an
important historic site. We will have to justify our case at public
meetings on the future of Walka. I would like to ask members of
Birding-Aus for their experience with islands for birds in large
(ca.18ha) dams. Does the cost, both financial and social, justify the
benefit? What is the minimum useful island size? Should it be vegetated
with trees or grasses/reeds? How deep should the surrounding water be?

Any comments would be helpful.

Jim Smart
East Maitland NSW

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