Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority will commence a draw-down of Lake Benalla on January 29 to combat noxious weeds.
Undertaken in conjunction with Benalla Rural City Council and Goulburn-Murray Water, the draw-down will help to control the noxious week cabomba, which is a serious threat to water quality, human safety, lake aesthetics and flora and fauna.
Goulburn Broken CMA project co-ordinator Tim Barlow said the weed also smothered native aquatic vegetation that provided valuable habitat for animals, fish and waterbugs, and cabomba also clogged pumps and filters.
‘‘We are aware there are platypus in the area which is why we have asked Australian Platypus Conservancy researchers to conduct a survey before the lake level is lowered to make sure impact to the platypus population is minimised,’’ Mr Barlow said.
APC biologist Geoff Williams said early morning and late evening survey sessions would be carried out from January 23 by experienced biologists to establish where platypus, especially breeding females and juveniles, and water rats were located in the lake.
‘‘Platypus and rakali (water rats) are mobile animals and will adjust their activity patterns for a few weeks in response to the lake draw-down,’’ Mr Williams said.
‘‘We will also be on hand at the height of the draw-down to rescue and relocate any animals that might become stranded in pools within the lake.’’
Similar work will be undertaken by fish biologists to move any stranded native fish to the main watercourse of the Broken River, which will continue to run through the lake during the draw-down period.
Lowering the lake for a couple of months will expose the cabomba to air and dry it out, with the method more effective and efficient than using sprays or other chemicals.
■Members of the public are invited to a free talk on platypus ecology at 3pm on Wednesday, January 24 at the Sir Edward Weary Dunlop Learning Centre in Benalla. To RSVP, email email@example.com or phone 5822 7700 by 3pm on Tuesday, January 23.
■Residents are also encouraged to record details of platypus sightings on the APC website: platypus.asn.au