2017 – Great Expectations for Biopassage Innovation in Design of a Turtle Passage at Gympie Weir

Helena Sutherland

In recent years, there has been greater expectations of waterway barriers to have more consideration of environmental factors; in particular associated with facilitating biopassage across the site.

The scope of the Gympie Weir Detailed Design Project included facilitating biopassage to as many aquatic species as possible,including the protected Mary River Turtle,while maintaining the required gauging accuracy and public amenities.Very rarely has a turtle been observed successfully traversing a fishway, as the designed velocity and depth criteria required to optimise fish passage is unsuitable for turtle passage. Thus for Gympie Weir,a leading-edge innovative solution was designed.

The design incorporates a low flow trapezoidal fishway chute, high flow rock ramp and turtle ramp. The turtle passage is the first of its kind and includes a curved concrete ramp with a variety of textures, two resting pools with protective niches, and limited vertical drop heights. Construction of the weir is intended for the near future and ongoing monitoring will be critical to assessing and improving performance, as well as contributing to the scientific knowledge base for future designs.

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