Griffith City Council was alerted on Saturday afternoon that dead fish were being washed up on the shore at Lake Wyangan North. Following a thorough inspection of the North Lake, more fish were discovered on surrounding shorelines, with the incident being reported immediately to the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Primary Industries (DPI).
Griffith City Council General Manager, Mr Brett Stonestreet said “Council recognises the severity of this situation and has taken prompt action with staff attending Lake Wyangan upon notification of the dead fish washing up on shore.”
“Samples have been taken of each fish species and will be analysed. Several water samples have also been taken and are being sent to an independent laboratory for testing,” said Mr Stonestreet.
“Council will also be meeting with representatives from the DPI to discuss the matter,” added Mr Stonestreet.
In early May, approximately 240ML of water was piped into Lake Wyangan North via the southern inlet with additional water coming into the Lake with the recent rainfall.
Mr Stonestreet said it is too early to speculate as to what has caused the fish fatalities.
Griffith Mayor Councillor John Dal Broi said Council is committed to finding solutions for the Lake.
“Council allocates 1,500 ML of water from its annual licence to assist with replenishing water losses at the Lake. In consultation with stakeholders, Council took the decision that to put large quantities of water into Lake Wyangan during a time of extreme drought would be irresponsible and instead, made the decision to allow water levels to reduce while still delivering sufficient water, as supplied by Murrumbidgee Irrigation, to the Lake in order to maintain a stable habitat for fish.
“The fish fatalities are obviously very distressing and Council is making every endeavour to find out why this occurred,” he added.
Council is currently finalising a tender process to select a contractor to construct a series of sedimentation ponds and wetlands at Lake Wyangan North with selection of a contractor imminent.
The sedimentation ponds and wetlands will significantly improve the quality of water entering the Lake, however future sediment inflow control is not the only challenge at Lake Wyangan.
“The Lake is actually an old quarry and over the decades has accumulated large quantities of sediment loaded with nutrients,” said Mayor Dal Broi.
“The strategy to improve the water quality is also dependent on improving circulation of the water and discouraging the growth of blue-green algae.”