Environmental Watering Update
Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has provided the following community update re flows in Gwydir system and fish deaths in parts of Mehi River.
Currently the NSW and Commonwealth Governments are undertaking environmental water delivery across the Gwydir, Mehi and Carole systems to replenish large river pools which act as fish refuge. Department of Planning, Industry and Environment - Environment, Energy and Science Group (EES), Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO), NSW Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries and WaterNSW are working together in managing these flows.
Initial environmental water releases are being used to restart the rivers after an extended period of no flow. After river startup, flows will be in combination with WaterNSW releases for stock and domestic flows down the systems.
Short-term impacts on water quality are expected when flows resume within drying rivers, either through natural rainfall events or controlled releases from dams. This can have localised impacts on native fish species. Unfortunately there have been reports of fish deaths in sections of the Mehi River. This is being investigated by DPI Fisheries and some fish have been taken for future analysis of otoliths (ear bones), as well as additional water quality monitoring being undertaken. Community members can report fish deaths to the Fishers Watch hotline on 1800 043 536.
To help reduce additional nutrient loads and to maintain water quality, local staff from NSW EES are undertaking clean up and disposal of dead fish under a DPI Fisheries permit.
Overall pools and water quality along the Gwydir, Mehi and Carole systems have improved, and will support native fish in the wider system as we go into summer under the tough conditions everyone is experiencing.
There will be a community update sent later this week with more information on this flow event, and this will include outline of likely plans for environmental water releases for our rivers and creeks that may be needed later in the season, if we continue to experience these extreme dry conditions.
Thank you to local community members and riparian landholders whom have assisted with access and information for monitoring in the system, and especially for additional monitoring along the Mehi.
If you wish receive further updates, email email@example.com (please also advise if you do not wish to receive these Gwydir system environmental flows email updates).
Hopefully we will experience good rainfalls and a change to better conditions soon.
Thanks, Jane Humphries & Gavin Pryde, CEWO