Drinking water 'safe' as rotting fish removed from river after mass killing
An operation to remove about one million rotting dead fish from a New South Wales river is underway while locals are being reassured the drinking water is safe.
The fish were killed due to "extreme conditions" caused by floods and then the recent heatwave creating low oxygen levels in Menindee Main Weir near Broken Hill last week.
Authorities are working to remove at-risk Murray cod, golden perch and silver perch amid concerns of the "risk of more fish deaths", according to NSW Police.
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"A contractor from South Australia is now on the water and working with officers from Fire and Rescue NSW with specialised equipment to remove fish from the water," NSW Police said.
"Once removed, the fish will be transported away from town for disposal as landfill."
Assistant Commissioner Brett Greentree said sections of the river would be closed during the clean up process.
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"Operators of boats and other watercraft should seek advice before heading out and otherwise obey directions from emergency and maritime services," Greentree said.
He said results of a test by Essential Water confirmed the quality of the water had not been impacted and it was safe for customers to drink.
"There are multiple viable solutions to maintain water supply and increased monitoring and testing will ensure changeover is immediate if alternative supply is required," he said.
"Residents in the Main Weir pool whose properties ordinarily rely on the river for water supply can access water carting for their domestic use by contacting Central Darling Shire Council."
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Broken Hill reached 38 degrees the day of the fish deaths last Thursday, its highest March temperature since 2019.
The species killed was predominantly bony herring, as well as smaller numbers of other large-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 similar to one that occurred 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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