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Keywords:

  • cold water pollution;
  • Murray cod;
  • modelling;
  • reservoir management

Abstract

A one-dimensional hydrodynamic reservoir model is coupled with a stochastic fish population model to examine the impacts of cold water pollution (CWP) on the Australian freshwater fish, Murray cod, downstream of Hume Dam, Australia. Mitigation of CWP through the introduction of selective withdrawal capabilities to access near-surface water is predicted to increase discharge temperatures during the crucial spring-early summer post-spawning period by 4–6°C for normal operating conditions, that is, a full reservoir in early spring. No improvement in discharge temperature was predicted for drought conditions characterized by relatively low storage levels in early spring. The predicted temperature increase using selective withdrawal increased the predicted average minimum female population abundance by 30–300% depending on the assumed spawning behaviour. Increased discharge temperatures appear to be achievable and are expected to reduce the stress currently impacting Murray cod populations due to CWP during crucial post-spawning periods. This provides evidence that mitigation of this problem may assist in rehabilitating Murray cod populations in the Murray River downstream of Hume Dam. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.