Menindee oxygenation trial starts to combat fish deaths7 FEBRUARY 2024
WaterNSW has commenced a trial on behalf of the NSW Government involving introducing oxygen into the Darling River at Menindee to assess its effectiveness in reducing the risk of large-scale fish deaths that have occurred in recent years.
The trial – a first for NSW – involves releasing highly oxygenated water from a submerged outlet to increase dissolved oxygen levels in the river and address one of the leading causes of large-scale fish deaths.
The project is a key part of the NSW Government’s action plan in response to the NSW Chief Scientist’s report into the fish deaths that occurred in the vicinity of the Menindee Lakes in March 2023.
If successful, the technique could potentially be used to increase and stabilise levels of dissolved oxygen levels at locations prone to fish deaths.
WaterNSW is conducting the trial in conjunction with the NSW Government, with NSW Minister for Water, Rose Jackson saying the strategy will hopefully offer scope to intervene more effectively when conditions increase the risk of fish deaths.
“We know our native fish are vulnerable and it’s on us to do everything possible to prevent and minimise further deaths. This trial has proved a winner in other parts of the country and is a practical solution which we can action right now.
“If the trial is a success, it could be a real game-changer in giving our native fish a fighting chance when faced with low flows or when the water quality is less than ideal.”
WaterNSW fish specialist, Joe Pera, said trials of the oxygenation technology in Western Australia had exceeded expectations.
“Where it was used in Western Australia the improved levels of dissolved oxygen spread beyond the immediate area of the oxygenation point,” he said.
“Obviously in bodies of water the size of Menindee lakes there is a limit to how wide the benefit would be felt, but in critical points, especially where fish concentrate or become trapped, it could be very useful in defusing the type of distressing incidents we have seen in the recent past.”
Theo Martin, from BOC, the company providing the oxygenation technology, said the firm is proud to be helping WaterNSW run the trial, which currently aims to improve dissolved oxygen levels in one section of the Darling River.
“This, and other similar BOC technology, is successfully oxygenating river systems in the Swan and Canning Rivers in Western Australia and the Murray River in South Australia to improve water quality and biodiversity,” he said.
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