ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Developing design guidelines for diversion screens that save native fish and enhance agricultural productivity. (2018-2020)


Ian Potter Foundation, $300,000


Professor Lee Baumgartner, Dr Katie Doyle

Research Theme(s)

Environmental Water & Biodiversity Conservation


Irrigation offtake in Murray-Darling Basin

In Australia, millions of native fish are being sucked into irrigation pumps and diverted down channels. Conservative estimates from pumps in NSW suggest 97 million fish/year are lost annually, equating to $72 million of fish fingerlings.

Proper screens can protect the fish and also make the irrigation industry more profitable.

While diversion screens are used in other countries i.e. North America, Australia is behind international practice.

For this project ILWS will partner with NSW DPI and private manufacturer AWMA solutions to perform applied research to determine design criteria for fish screens. Specifically the work will try to identify solutions to prevent eggs and larvae being entrained into irrigation systems.

Screens can substantially reduce the loss of native fish caused by irrigation water extractions, greatly enhance water efficiency, and reduce debris loads and associated maintenance costs.

The development of biological design guidelines is an essential first step towards achieving broad-scale screen uptake to protect native fish while creating new manufacturing jobs in rural and regional towns.


The expected outcome of this project is design guidelines for diversion screens that will help rehabilitate native fish populations and make agriculture more profitable by reducing the operational and maintenance costs of water diversion.


Professor Lee Baumgartner  email

CSU Albury-Wodonga

October 2020