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Water use worry

Wednesday, 9th January, 2019

Some of the hundreds of thousands of fish dead in the Darling River. Some of the hundreds of thousands of fish dead in the Darling River.

By Emily McInerney

The death toll of fish continues to climb in Menindee and now locals are concerned with the quality of water.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and WaterNSW are currently investigating the large fish kill at Menindee.

In recent weeks fish kills have occurred in the Namoi River below Keepit Dam, the Lachlan River at Wyangala Dam and also in the Darling River at Menindee in a separate event in December.

DPI Senior Fisheries Manager, Anthony Townsend, said fisheries officers have visited the affected area downstream of Menindee.

“The ongoing drought conditions across western NSW have resulted in fish kills in a number of waterways recently and today our fisheries officers have confirmed a major fish kill event in the Darling River at Menindee affecting hundreds of thousands of fish, including Golden

Perch, Murray Cod and Bony Herring,” Mr Townsend said.

“After a very hot period, a sharp cool change hit the Menindee region over the weekend, with large temperature drops experienced.

“This sudden drop in temperature may have disrupted an existing algal bloom at Menindee, killing the algae and resulting in the depletion of dissolved oxygen.”

While the sight of hundreds of thousands of dead and dying fish is distressing, Menindee locals are also concerned about drinking that water.

Local Rob Gregory said the water coming out of their taps smells.

“We’re now drinking this water in Menindee,” he said.

“We’re showering in it, drinking it and cleaning out teeth in it.

“The water stinks from the previous fish kill, after this recent kill the water will be septic.”

Fellow Menindee resident Karen Page said she wasn’t sure on the quality of the water.

“The only thing I could tell you is how bad it smells, I have no idea what the water quality readings are, the only ones that can tell you that is Essential Water and State Water,” she said.

“I don’t think anyone in Menindee would be drinking tap water as they say it stinks.”

Deena O’Donnell lives and works in Menindee and said the situation is “absolutely horrible”.

“It is absolutely disgusting, I live over the river and when you come over the bridge all you can smell is dead fish.

“We are on river water, my kids and I are showering in it.

“The water is really bad, it is giving my kids skin irritations.”

She said the next option for her family was to have the water delivered.

“We shouldn’t have to buy water to shower in, it is ridiculous.

“I buy boxed water every week to drink and when I come into Broken Hill I buy eight boxes of it.”

Deena works at the Albemarle Hotel and said most businesses were struggling when it came to water.

“The town water is getting worse as well; we drove down to the other pub yesterday to see the river.

“But you couldn’t stand there - because it smelt so bad.”

Essential Water was contacted for comment. 

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