Multi-agency operations are continuing under the coordination of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at Menindee in response to fish kills in the lower Darling-Baaka River.
The EOC was established at the direction of State Emergency Operations Controller, Deputy Commissioner Emergency Management Peter Thurtell, to ensure fresh and clean water supply is maintained to the Menindee township and properties surrounding the Main Weir pool, as well as to coordinate the removal and disposal of as many of the fish as possible.
NSW Police Force Regional Emergency Operations Controller, Assistant Commissioner Brett Greentree is overseeing the coordination of the emergency response by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), WaterNSW and Central Darling Shire Council, with the support of various other agencies.
A second town hall was held today (Friday 24 March 2023), where the community was provided an extensive update on the emergency operation.
Assistant Commissioner Greentree said the meeting was a further opportunity for experts to address community concerns and explain the processes being undertaken by involved agencies.
“The most obvious concern within the community is access to clean water and Essential Water was able to reassure those on town water that there are no – and nor will there be – issues with water supply,” Assistant Commissioner Greentree said.
“It’s also important that I reiterate NSW Health’s advice that the drinking water supply in Menindee township is safe to drink and continues to meet all health-related Australian Drinking Water Guidelines values.
“That said, we would encourage anyone who is concerned or feels unwell, whether that be physically or mentally, please contact the local health service for assessment, advice or assistance.
“Additionally, for residents in the Main Weir pool whose properties ordinarily rely on the river for water supply, you will continue to be assisted via water carting services.”
Those residents can make arrangements for these services by contacting Central Darling Shire Council.
Assistant Commissioner Greentree reiterated that the emergency operation was very much ongoing.
“All agencies will continue work over the weekend, which includes the clean-up operation, as well as the monitoring and management of this hypoxic blackwater event,” Assistant Commissioner Greentree said.
“Further, we will continue to communicate with the local community on the emergency operation and ensure they have access to the most up-to-date information.”
Following the town hall, an extensive community update with responses to frequently asked questions was electronically sent to community members. It is also available online: https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/news/news_article?sq_content_src=%2BdXJsPWh0dHBzJTNBJTJGJTJGZWJpenByZC5wb2xpY2UubnN3Lmdvdi5hdSUyRm1lZGlhJTJGMTA1OTQ4Lmh0bWwmYWxsPTE%3D
To assist with ongoing operations, members of the community are urged to report observations of struggling fish or deaths directly to DPI Fisheries on 1800 043 536.
For more information about fish kills, as well as recent reports of observations and causes, visit: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/habitat/threats/fish-kills
These types of events can be distressing to members of the community, and anyone who requires health, welfare or other support can contact support services. A comprehensive list of services is online:
Information about suspected criminal activity or concerns in relation to community safety can be provided to Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.