Thousands of fish and freshwater shrimp have become the latest victims of drought after a major fish kill was discovered in the Namoi River, directly below Keepit Dam.
President of the Keepit Family Fishing Club and water and soil scientist Anne Michie said at least five different species of fish, as well as hundreds of freshwater shrimp, were found belly near Orange Grove Road.
A NSW Fisheries spokesperson confirmed the incident on Thursday.
“The rising temperatures and low river flows will place significant pressure on water quality within the Namoi River,” the spokesperson said.
“The investigation revealed thousands of fish had died immediately downstream of the wall. It is likely low dissolved oxygen levels was the cause.”
The local event occurred just two days after a massive fish kill occured along a 50 km stretch of the Darling River near Menindee, with a blue green algae outbreak claiming over 10,000 fish.
“The quality of remaining water is concerning, and the resumption of flows is also concerning,” the spokesperson said.
“Inevitably one way or the other fish kills are going to occur, and are not uncommon during prolonged drought.”
Locally Mrs Miche, who predicted the fish kill a fortnight ago, has come to terms with the fact that these incidents are inevitable. She did however point the finger at Water NSW, who she believes could have mitigated or lessened the impact.
“I don’t believe Water NSW has managed the resource out of Keepit Dam properly,” she said.
“I don’t know exactly what the answer is, but the warm weather has only just hit so I think this will be the first of many fish kills.”
Water NSW, irrigators, and recreational users have been at loggerheads recently, particularly in regards to environmental releases from the dam.
Early this week the final available flow was released in an effort to get water to flow west to Wee Waa and Walgett.
A Water NSW spokesperson said “the last of the water has been intended for customers, including stock and domestic supply for landholders.”
“The lifting of restrictions this week allows customers to access small volumes of water generated by the recent rain event.”
Keepit now sits at 0.3 per cent, with five gigalitres remaining below the release valve.
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