March 22nd 2023.
An operation to take out close to one million decaying dead fish from a New South Wales river is in progress while locals are being reassured that the drinking water is safe.
The fish were killed due to "severe conditions" created by floods and then the recent heatwave which caused low oxygen levels in Menindee Main Weir near Broken Hill last week.
Authorities are trying to remove at-risk Murray cod, golden perch and silver perch due to the "danger of more fish deaths", according to NSW Police.
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"A contractor from South Australia is now on the water and cooperating with officers from Fire and Rescue NSW with specialised equipment to extract fish from the water," NSW Police said.
"Once removed, the fish will be taken away from town for disposal as landfill."
Assistant Commissioner Brett Greentree said parts of the river would be closed during the clean up process.
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"Users of boats and other watercraft should seek advice before heading out and otherwise follow directions from emergency and maritime services," Greentree said.
He said results of a test by Essential Water confirmed that the quality of the water had not been affected and it was safe for customers to drink.
"There are multiple viable solutions to maintain water supply and increased monitoring and testing will guarantee immediate shift if alternative supply is needed," he said.
"Residents in the Main Weir pool whose properties usually depend on the river for water supply can get water carting for their domestic use by contacting Central Darling Shire Council."
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Broken Hill hit 38 degrees the day of the fish deaths last Thursday, its highest March temperature since 2019.
The species killed was mainly bony herring, as well as smaller numbers of other big-bodied species such as Murray cod, golden perch, silver perch and carp.
There have also been reports of mass fish deaths in the Macquarie Valley this week.
The event is comparable to one that happened in the region in 2019.
Weatherzone said unlike the 2019 event which was caused by an algal bloom during drought, these deaths were partly due to floods.
Anyone can report fish kills on 1800 043 536.
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