2017 – Can They Jump Puddles? A Discussion of the Design Features of a Weir to Limit Impacts on Aquatic Species

Lesa Delaere, Dr Natalie Clark, Dr Shayan Maleki

Waterway barriers, such as dams and weirs, have the potential to impact aquatic fauna species through the restriction of fauna movement and direct injury and mortality of individuals. Without suitably designed aquatic fauna passages and features to minimise injury and mortality, these barriers may adversely affect the viability of local and regional populations, through disruption to critical behaviours (e.g. breeding, dispersal).

The Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project comprises of two weirs on the Fitzroy River in central Queensland. Two threatened turtle species, the Fitzroy River turtle and the white-throated snapping turtle, and a range of fish species needed consideration of species-specific requirements and development of targeted design solutions.

This paper discusses the ecological needs of these species as well as features incorporated into the design to reduce the impact of the weirs. The design incorporated modular fishlocks, gate, spillway and stilling basin features, an innovative turtle passage, special considerations for outlets and operational aspects. The design was further subject to complexity due to the variation in river flows, zero flow to approximately 9,000m3/sat bank full, and needed to account for a wide range of operational scenarios with respect to the species impacts.The paper also includes a discussion on computational fluid dynamics modelling (CFD) which was used to validate the design of fish passage structures.

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