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Locals dive in to save fish

Thursday, 14th February, 2019

This big generator-powered aerator was donated and Menindee local put it in to try and save some fish because flows have been cut to the Lower Darling. PICTURE: Supplied This big generator-powered aerator was donated and Menindee local put it in to try and save some fish because flows have been cut to the Lower Darling. PICTURE: Supplied

By Emily McInerney

Menindee locals, anticipating the cutting of flows to the lower Darling River, have united to put in an aerator at Weir 32.

It was announced on Tuesday that WaterNSW was ceasing flows from the weir.

The move was delayed last week after a request from DPI Fisheries to allow time to relocate fish from the pool immediately downstream of the weir.

Menindee local, Graeme McCrabb, said they placed the aerator in last week and it was “going pretty well.”

WaterNSW has stated that water from Weir 32 was needed for local landholders, permanent plantings and stock and domestic use.

Releases are only planned to recommence when sufficient inflows are received into the Menindee lakes. Inflows are currently zero.

“The Catch 22 is that they kept letting water out of the weir,” Mr McCrabb said.

“Water was still coming out as fish were dying.

“Every litre out of the main weir is a litre less that was needed.”

Mr McCrabb said he was proud of the efforts of locals.

“We had the aerator and generator donated, as well as diesel to keep it running. It took volunteers to get all that ready.

“It’s thanks to Murray Cod Australia, Oz Fish and Paul Grose for his generator.”

Mr McCrabb estimated there were about 20 Murray Cod in the weir pool.

“Sixteen were rescued from another hole and five were already in that section,” he said.

“There’s hundreds of golden and silver perch and hundreds of bony bream.

“There’s a $13 billion Basin Plan and it only took 10 locals to put the generator in.”

Broken Hill and Menindee town supplies will come from Copi Hollow until the Wentworth to Broken Hill pipeline is fully commissioned.

WaterNSW has filled four block banks to provide for Lower Darling landholders for stock and domestic needs and to water permanent plantings through to autumn.

It said dry times in the northern basin had contributed to the shortage of water in the lakes.

The northern rivers that feed into the Barwon-Darling had received only 30 gigalitres of inflows in the last six months of 2018-19, Water NSW said.

It said that according to long term data, the northern river system could expect to receive an average of 4000GL a year.

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