Water

Darling fish deaths blamed on water mismanagement

By Country News

Water mismanagement, not drought, was the main cause of more than 10000 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 10000 fish were dead due to the low levels of poor quality slow-flowing water along a 50km 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 70billion litres of water away. The NSW Government also continued to drain the Menindee Lakes.’’