Fishing for answers in Menindee Lakes

By AG Staff April 15, 2024
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A New South Wales-first oxygenation trial aims to address dissolved oxygen levels in the Darling River that have contributed to large-scale fish deaths in recent years.

WaterNSW recently commenced its oxygenation trial at Menindee Lakes in western New South Wales, about 200km upstream of the junction of the Murray and Darling rivers, following a spate of mass fish-kill events in recent years.

The trial, which began in February, will pump highly oxygenated water into the Darling River in a bid to improve the lakes’ water quality, which has been steadily declining for a number of years due to poor management, drought, over irrigation and reduced water flow.

In March 2023 an estimated 30 million fish suffocated after the Darling River’s oxygen levels plummeted during a heatwave. This fish-kill event was preceded by toxic blue-green algal blooms in 2018 and 2019, which killed about 10,000 fish and 1 million fish respectively.

If the trial is successful, the technology will be used to prevent and mitigate future fish-kill events at Menindee Lakes, and possibly elsewhere.

Related: OPINION: Getting the Murray–Darling Basin Plan back on track