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Millions of dead fish, fear of drinking water. How did this small town get here?

Key Point:
  • Millions of fish are killed near Menindee, New South Wales.
  • Experts claim that New South Wales is deliberately sabotaging the Murray-Darling Basin plans.
  • Locals demanded that NSW officials drink the water to prove it was safe.
Locals are left angry and confused as authorities continue their massive operation of removing millions of rotting fish from the Darlingvarka River in Menindee, New South Wales. I wonder why an environmental crisis of this magnitude will happen again.
Tensions spilled over during a town hall meeting in the westernmost town of New South Wales earlier this week, when locals brought a glass of river water to the Water NSW authorities and enough game to drink it. I checked if there is
“Water is safe. Fish killing is a naturally occurring phenomenon,” they continue.

Like almost everyone in town, McCrabb believes poor water management is the real culprit. And they are not alone.

Have fish ever died near Menindee?

In 2019, millions of fish died in the same range of Darling Barka. Fish suffocated in disjointed puddles during a record-breaking drought.

In 2023, oxygen was absorbed by increased organic matter and washed into river systems after recent floods.

The fish died from the lack of oxygen. sauce: attached / Jeff Rooney

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) said:

The panel found that fish mortality in 2019 was due to low water flow, weirs preventing fish from easily moving upstream and downstream, poor water quality, and rapid temperature changes. bottom.

Experts accuse New South Wales of ‘obstructing’ watershed plans

David Papps, an ecologist-turned-bureaucrat,(MDBP) was first implemented until 2018.
Mr Papps’ work as CEWH will help ensure the billions of liters of water supplied by the basin states (NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and ACT) under the MDBP to keep birds, fish and wetlands healthy. was to manage water.

“What we see [in Menindee] Something is so frequent and so large that it indicates a fundamental problem with the management of the river system,” he told SBS News.

Mr Papps accused successive NSW governments of “sabotaging” the basin plan.
“What the NSW government is doing, and has been doing for 10 years, is not blind incompetence. Mr Papps said.

“For 10 years, NSW has done everything it can to provide water for the environment, while choosing not to implement the parts of the plan that are detrimental to irrigated communities. I would add that it is a view shared by objective observers of

Is NSW ‘sabotaging’ the plan?

Freshwater ecologist Richard Kingsford was a member of the independent Vertessy Review Board.
Professor Kingsford said while fish deaths after flooding were “not uncommon”, the scale of the Menindee situation was exacerbated by “failures in water policy and management”.
“Successive governments … have given out too much water [to irrigators],” He said.
“This is the clearest sign of policy failure and management failure. These catastrophes were inevitable.”

One of the key recommendations of the Vertessy report was to improve fish passages up and down the river system. it’s not happening.

“It’s been known for a long time that the fish passages at Menindee don’t work. With the main weir blocked, the fish are essentially stuck and therefore dying in large numbers,” Professor Kingsford said. said.

The MDBA said the fish passage did not help kill either fish, but the NSW government points to the so-called ‘Better Baaka Project’, which aims to improve river connectivity between the northern and southern watersheds. bottom.

What is the NSW government saying?

In February, the NSW Government resubmitted nearly all of its 20 water resource plans to the MDBA, four years behind schedule. This is because watershed authorities found that previous plans did not meet basic requirements.
New South Wales Water Minister Kevin Anderson said the coalition had “worked tirelessly” to bring the state’s water resources plan to fruition.

“NSW is responsible for 20 of the 33 water resource schemes, more than double that of other basin jurisdictions,” he said.

Isaac Jeffrey, CEO of the National Irrigators Council, rejected suggestions that irrigators would be given preferential treatment, arguing that human needs, such as drinking water, should take precedence.
“NIC supports healthy rivers, wetlands and wildlife, and this can be achieved through complementary measures and infrastructure investments,” he said.

“Just adding water through buybacks has no environmental impact.”

where from here?

At a Murray Darling ministerial meeting last month, Federal Water Minister Tanya Priversek said the Albanian government would voluntarily “buy back” water quotas to “fill gaps” in environmental water that have not been rehabilitated by state governments. announced.
“At last month’s meeting, watershed ministers, including NSW ministers, reaffirmed their commitment to fully deliver on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan,” Mr Privarsek said.
But the buyback has been controversial, with NSW’s water minister warning it will be a “huge blow” for basin communities that rely on irrigation.

“NSW has made its position clear for over a year now. More time and more flexibility are needed to meet the remaining water recovery targets of the plan through new and existing infrastructure projects. We need it,” Anderson said.

If anything has been clear from trying to implement watershed planning over the past decade, it is that water policy is very complex and very emotional, especially during times of drought.
Priversek is already preparing for the beginning of the El Niño transition that will bring hot, dry weather.
“[Another drought] Like it or not, it’s coming,” she said at a meeting last month.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that our communities, farmers and the environment are prepared for the next drought.”

The promise of better preparedness is a cold consolation for Menindee locals who have once again found themselves at the forefront of a system of boom and busts that is growing more extreme than ever before.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/millions-of-dead-fish-fears-over-drinking-water-how-did-menindee-get-here/lv8wd3px7 Millions of dead fish, fear of drinking water. How did this small town get here?

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