Fish Kill Report Must Force Overhaul of Water Department: Greens
The NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer’s finding that mass fish deaths in the Darling-Baaka River was due to the failure of existing legal environmental protections in water law not being enforced or implemented should warrant an overhaul of the NSW Water Department, says Greens MP and water spokesperson Cate Faehrmann.
“The Chief Scientist’s release of his findings and recommendations makes for grim reading. The NSW Water Minister must look at what changes are needed within her water department to ensure the river health is prioritised”, said Ms Faehrmann.
“These terrible fish kills, off the back of the carnage we saw in 2018/19, are clearly a manifestation of the overall degradation of the broader river ecosystem resulting from decades of wilful mismanagement of water in NSW.
“The NSW Government’s response to the declining health of the Darling-Baaka River system has been woeful for years.
“In 2020, the ICAC found that NSW water department officials had been giving favourable treatment to irrigators for at least a decade and this report suggests that this is still the case.
“The Chief Scientist is sending a very strong message that the Government is failing to uphold the water law of this state and the Darling-Baaka River is dying as a result.
“The first and foremost recommendation made by the Chief Scientist is that our water management laws actually be enforced by the Government.
“This review makes clear that further mass fish deaths are likely. In fact, I’ve spoken with locals along the Darling-Baaka River this week who tell me that things are already looking grim at Menindee with stagnant water and some large cod dying again.
“With increasing temperatures and the likelihood of reduced flows going forward, this isn’t going to be the last time we see a catastrophic environmental event like this,” says Cate Faehrmann.