Fish deaths blamed on wa­ter mis­man­age­ment

Shepparton News - Country News - - COUNTRY LIFE -

Wa­ter mis­man­age­ment, not drought, was the main cause of more than 10 000 na­tive fish deaths prior to Christ­mas in the lower Dar­ling River, the western NSW state elec­tion can­di­dates for the Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers Party say.

‘‘Gov­ern­ment de­part­ments blame the drought for this tragedy. This is not the whole story,’’ the party can­di­date for Bar­won, Roy But­ler, said.

‘‘The truth is their own in­com­pe­tence and mis­man­age­ment of wa­ter re­sources killed the fish.

‘‘And they’re killing the sur­round­ing towns and com­mu­ni­ties too.’’

The seat of Bar­won in­cludes the lower Dar­ling River, where the dead fish were found.

Mr But­ler said the 10 000 fish were dead due to the low lev­els of poor qual­ity slow-flow­ing wa­ter along a 50 km stretch of the Dar­ling River.

Th­ese are ideal con­di­tions for a bloom of the deadly bac­te­ria known as blue-green al­gae.

‘‘While the hot weather and lack of rain have been the cat­a­lyst for the dis­as­ter, we must ask one ques­tion,’’ Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers can­di­date for Mur­ray He­len Dal­ton said.

‘‘Why are wa­ter lev­els and flows so low?

‘‘It’s be­cause fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments have drained wa­ter from the Menindee Lakes and flushed it out to man-made lakes in South Aus­tralia.

‘‘The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Au­thor­ity and the NSW Lib­eral Na­tional gov­ern­ment are the guilty par­ties.

‘‘If they hadn’t drained so much wa­ter away, there would be enough avail­able now to flush the river. This would cre­ate the fast move­ment of wa­ter needed to pre­vent the deadly al­gae from bloom­ing.’’

Mr But­ler said that in 2016 the Menindee Lakes were full and over­flow­ing. That was when MDBA ramped up its drain­ing of the lakes.

‘‘By late-2017, as drought be­gan to bite, Menindee was down to 40 per cent ca­pac­ity. The lo­cals knew the big dry was set to con­tinue, so begged the MDBA to stop re­leas­ing their wa­ter.

‘‘But the MDBA com­pletely ig­nored them, and flushed an­other 70 bil­lion litres of wa­ter away. The NSW Gov­ern­ment also con­tin­ued to drain the Menindee Lakes.’’

. . . they’re killing the sur­round­ing towns and com­mu­ni­ties too Roy But­ler

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