Fish moved ahead of canal repairs

18:03, Jan 16 2014

Genesis Energy workers have spent the past two days moving fish from the "de-watered" Tekapo canal as part of its multi-million dollar repair job.

Chief executive Albert Brantley said the trout and salmon were placed in the canal sections not being de-watered, while some large migratory eels had also been caught.

"Ngai Tahu have requested that these eels be placed in the Waitaki River downstream from the Waitaki Dam," he said.

"The way in which native species are dealt with depends on what they are ... small natives and non-migrating eels are being placed in local waterways.

Mr Brantley did not yet know how many fish had been salvaged, but the operation had been successful.

Representatives from Ngai Tahu, Fish & Game, the Department of Conservation and the Cawthron Institute assisted with the salvage operation.


The work was in preparation for the job of repairing and re-lining a 2km section of the canal known as the Maryburn Fill.

About 110 workers arrived on the work site on January 7. Mr Brantley said it would have the full complement of 160 workers by Monday.

"Some above-water earthworks have begun and this involves the removal of the old frost protection layer. Although the weather has been very windy to date, we are hopeful that we will experience a similar weather pattern to what we had last summer," he said.

Last summer, more than 150 workers assisted with the re-lining and repairing of an 8km section of the canal.

The repair work will cost Genesis about $125 million.

Meanwhile, Mt Cook Alpine Salmon general manager Janine Tulloch said it had moved the majority of its 600,000 fish to rafts on the Ohau and Ruataniwha canals before the de-watering process began last week.

"We were well prepared. We've learnt a lot from last year's experience, when some of the fish got stressed and sick," she said.

Genesis public affairs spokesperson Richard Gordon said Lake Tekapo was about 72 per cent full, or 708m above sea level.

"People should be aware of the potential for spill and uncontrolled flows in the Tekapo River," he said. The canal would be out of service for 10 weeks.

The Timaru Herald