DRYING OUT: Friends of Lake Apex members Elaine Paterson and Di Lewin point out the diminishing water levels.
DRYING OUT: Friends of Lake Apex members Elaine Paterson and Di Lewin point out the diminishing water levels. Meg Bolton

Wildlife hotspot monitored as water dries up

CRACKED lake beds, dead wildlife and diminishing water levels are enough to make any patrons at Lake Apex grimace.

But the sight is particularly hard to look at for Friends of Lake Apex members Elaine Paterson and Di Lewin.

The Lockyer Valley retirees have spent nine years dedicating their time to keeping the lake and its surrounds in top condition, but the latest issue is out of their control.

Vice-president MrsPaterson said it wasn't the first time she had seen Lake Apex almost empty, but the previous experience didn't make the sight easier to stomach.

"It's just depressing,” MrsPaterson said.

The lake beds started to show in late January after Gatton received just oneper cent of its average rainfall for the month.

Rainfall levels improved slightly in February, the region receiving 10per cent of the monthly average, but water levels at Lake Apex remained dire.

Mrs Paterson said last time the water levels of the lake significantly reduced, community groups removed turtles and native wildlife that were suffering the effects of the drought.

Lockyer Valley Regional Council environmental portfolio councillor Rick Vela said staff were monitoring native wildlife caught up in the drought conditions at Lake Apex.

"Unfortunately the long- term lack of rain has had a major impact on our native fauna right across the Lockyer Valley,” he said.

"We will continue to monitor the bird, turtle and fish species in the Lake Apex area for signs of stress and will take appropriate action where necessary.”

Cr Vela said the council would rescue wildlife in need of help but intervening was a last resort.

"It is often the case that moving animals too early causes increased stress and exacerbates an already delicate situation,” he said.

A 2018 survey showed Lake Apex was home to 130species of birds.

Mrs Paterson said while bird populations were lower than usual, she expected the vast range of species would return after the drought.

In the meantime, MrsPaterson was working with FOLA members to ensure the lake's outskirts were maintained.

Mrs Paterson said she looked forward to rain and seeing the lake return to its former glory.