Canning River - Lissiman Street

Basin : Swan-Coastal

Catchment : Canning River

River condition at the Lissiman Street site on the Canning River (site code: CR37CANN1, site reference: 6167143 ‒ previously reported as site code: GOS, site reference: 6164376) has been assessed on several occasions since 2009. This includes 18 individual fish and crayfish surveys as part of the Healthy Rivers program, including previous versions of the program. Most recently it was assessed three times over the 2021–22 dry season (during December 2021 and February and May 2022). Additionally, water quality was logged at 30-minute intervals between November 2021 and May 2022.

Healthy Rivers assessments are conducted using standard methods from the South West Index of River Condition (SWIRC), which incorporates field and desktop data from the site and from the broader catchment. Field data collected include the following indicators, assessed over about a 100 m length of stream:

  • Aquatic biota: fish and crayfish community information (abundance of native and exotic species across size classes, general reproductive and physical condition)
  • Water quality: dissolved oxygen, temperature, specific conductivity, and pH (logged in situ over 24 hours) as well as laboratory samples for colour, alkalinity, turbidity and nutrients
  • Aquatic habitat: e.g. water depth, substrate type, presence of woody debris and detritus, type and cover of macrophytes and draping vegetation
  • Physical form: channel morphology, bank slope and shape, bioconnectivity (barriers to migration of aquatic species), erosion and sedimentation
  • Fringing zone: width and length of vegetation cover within the river corridor and lands immediately adjacent, structural intactness of riparian and streamside vegetation
  • Hydrology: measures of flow (velocity) at representative locations (compared against data from stream gauging stations within the system)
  • Local land use: descriptions of local land use types and activities (compared against land use mapping information for the catchment)

Previous assessments at this site are listed below and include some or all of the measures above. Note: aquatic fauna sampling methods have been specified given variations between surveys.

2009–10Nov–Apr Water Science Technical Series, Report no. 35, Department of Water, Government of Western Australia, Perth6 x monthly fish and crayfish trapping over 72 hours
2012–13Dec–Apr Department of Water3 x bimonthly fish and crayfish trapping over 24 hours
2015–16Nov–May Healthy Rivers (Department of Water)Full SWIRC assessment (SWIRC method) – Dec 2015
Fish and crayfish trapping only – Feb and Apr 2016
2018–19Nov–Apr Healthy Rivers (Murdoch University for Department of Water and Environmental Regulation)Full SWIRC assessment (SWIRC method) – Dec 2018
Fish and crayfish trapping only – Feb and Apr 2019
Mussel survey Dec 2018 and Feb 2019
2021–22Nov–May Healthy Rivers (Department of Water and Environmental Regulation)Full SWIRC assessment (SWIRC method) – Dec 2021
Fish and crayfish trapping only – Feb and May 2022

For a subset of the assessments above, water quality loggers were deployed for extended periods (see below). This enabled assessment of water quality responses to changes in climate, streamflow and factors such as the intactness of vegetation within the river corridor. Among other things, this allows detection of suboptimal water quality conditions which can be missed during the standard 24-hour assessment.

  • 2015–2016 (Nov–May): Healthy Rivers
  • 2018–2019 (Nov–Apr): Healthy Rivers
  • 2021–2022 (Nov–May): Healthy Rivers

Other departmental data: The Lissiman Street site is about 5 km downstream of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation's (the department) flow gauging station known as Seaforth (site reference 616027), which has been in operation since 1997.

Search the site code or site reference in the department’s Water Information Reporting (WIR) system to find data for this site and nearby sampling points (flows, surface water quality, groundwater monitoring, the department's meteorological data). See also the Bureau of Meteorology website for additional meteorological data for the area.

Condition summary

A report from the 2009–10 sampling is available on the department’s website.

The image below indicates the conditions at the Lissiman Street site in February 2022. February is within the Noongar season of Bunuru (second summer), which is generally the hottest and often driest part of the year. Further images are provided in the gallery at the bottom of the page to show general site conditions.

An image showing the site - river and riparian vegetation.

A summary of aquatic biota detected over the different sampling events, and water quality over the latest monitoring period, is provided in the sections below. For other site data, please contact the department’s River Science team (please reference the site code and sampling dates).


Flow & connectivity

Scheme water is released from six points along the Canning River over the dry season (about November to May) to maintain key ecological function, provide water for licensed use, and contribute to maintaining the cultural and social values of the river.

These Environmental Water Provisions were formalised in the Middle Canning River surface water allocation plan (2012) and are set out in the Water Resource Management Operating Strategy associated with Water Corporation’s licence for the Integrated Water Supply Scheme. The allocation plan is evaluated and updated as required.

Regarding river health, the release regime was designed to support pool ecology through maintenance of water quality and habitat availability, including providing for localised movement of aquatic fauna. This follows guidance from the Ecological Water Requirements for the Lower Canning River (2010) and has been adapted over time following recommendations from ecological monitoring undertaken as part of the allocation plan evaluation.

Flow data are provided in the next section.

Water quality

Continuous water quality data collected between November 2021 and May 2022 are displayed below.

Continuous water quality data collected between November 2021 and May 2022 at Lissiman Street

Maximum water temperature remained below 25°C for most (more than 98 per cent) of the assessment period, with only minor and short-lived exceedances between November and May. We use the 25°C threshold1 as an indicative upper range for optimal conditions, with aquatic fauna expected to be under increasing levels of stress further above this threshold. Maintaining optimal temperatures despite high ambient temperatures recorded during the period (maximum at Jandakot airport was 39.6°C on 21 January 2022) is presumably because of extensive shading from tree canopy at the site.

Dissolved oxygen was suboptimal2 for a large part of the dry season, with concentrations below 4 mg/L for 62 per cent, and below 2 mg/L for 42 per cent, of the assessment period. A large diurnal flux in dissolved oxygen was also recorded through much of the period, which typically indicates that biological factors are driving dissolved oxygen conditions (e.g. algae producing oxygen during the day and consuming oxygen at night).

Such conditions are often only alleviated by pulse flows from large storms or with the onset of winter flows which have sufficient volume to mix and flush stagnant water. This is demonstrated at the Lissiman site, with a rapid increase in dissolved oxygen on the 26 April 2022 following an equally rapid increase in streamflow from 4 ML/day to 24 ML/day recorded at the Seaforth gauging station (5 km upstream), which followed 15 mm of rain in the preceding 24 hours (see top plot on figure 1).

Specific conductivity and pH generally remained within acceptable ranges, based on expectations of natural ranges for freshwater rivers of south-west Western Australia.



1 An upper limit for temperature is nominally set at 25°C based on the range recorded in sites where south-west native fish species are typically found to occur (Beatty et al. 2013).

2 A lower limit of 4 mg/L is taken from the SWIRC where it is used as a guideline limit for condition scoring. This level aligns with Beatty et al. (2013) where south-west native fish species were shown to typically reside in sites with levels above 4 mg/L.

Species found at the site

Fish and crayfish

The species captured at the Lissiman Street site during each of the sampling periods since 2009–10 are provided in Table 2. The table includes a list of all species previously reported in the subcatchment, which provides an indication of species that may occur at the assessment site. As differences in habitat within a subcatchment naturally influence species distributions, and variability in methods between sampling programs can affect the species caught, this list is only indicative.

Fish and freshwater crustaceans (crayfish and shrimp) observed at the Lissiman Street site on the Canning River.

Nine species of fish and three species of crustacean were recorded during the 2021–22 sampling. This included five endemic species of fish (freshwater cobbler, western minnow, western pygmy perch, nightfish and blue spot goby) and two endemic freshwater crayfish (smooth marron and gilgie). Four exotic fish species were also recorded, including the highly aggressive and invasive pearl cichlid.

Importantly, the three small-bodied native freshwater fish (western minnow, western pygmy perch and nightfish) have been present in healthy numbers during all assessments since 2009–10. Also present was the large-bodied native freshwater cobbler, which has now been observed during all assessed periods except for 2015–16. The large size of freshwater cobbler (relative to other native fish) and its requirement for movement within the system through the dry season provides a good indication that bioconnectivity is being maintained.

The detection of pearl cichlids in the 2021–22 sampling, including juveniles, was the second time that this exotic species has been observed at the site (previously in 2015–16). The pearl cichlid has spread into many tributaries of the Swan-Canning system since first detected in the Bennett Brook catchment in 2006.

The native fish populations detected in each of the three surveys (Dec 2021, Feb 2022 and May 2022) were generally similar. There was no clear reduction in species diversity in May 2022, as might have been expected after a prolonged period of suboptimal dissolved oxygen (see water quality section). This may suggest that refuge habitats exist in the area that aquatic fauna can utilise during periods of adverse water quality conditions. It also shows that species can quickly recolonise the area once conditions improve. This resilience is encouraging as it suggests our aquatic ecosystems have an ability to tolerate or adapt to stress, including from a drying climate.

The presence of refuge habitats within river reaches is critically important for ecological resilience within river systems. Identifying and maintaining or improving the condition of these refuge habitats of high ecological value is vital to supporting ongoing ecological function in the middle Canning River.

Note: collection of fauna from inland aquatic ecosystems across Western Australia requires a licence from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA). All species collected must be reported to these agencies as part of licence conditions.

Other aquatic fauna

Carter’s freshwater mussel (Westralunio carteri) was observed at the Lissiman Street site during the 2021–22 assessments. This mollusc is the sole endemic freshwater mussel species in Western Australia and currently listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list of threatened species (because of declining range, which is largely attributed to the effects of salinity).

Although not targeted by collection methods, south-western snake necked turtles (Chelodina oblonga) and unknown frogs or tadpoles (Anura) were collected in fish nets and/or traps.

For more information on these and other aquatic species, please see the River Science fauna page.