‘NSW still headed for a fish kill disaster’
NSW farmers will be paid to build fences around vulnerable riverbanks in the northern Murray Darling Basin to stop livestock contaminating the critical remaining water.
Federal Water Resources Minister David Littleproud will today announce a $15 million program for fencing in northern NSW and Queensland to prevent livestock polluting the water that then flows south.
The fences are a practical measure to reduce the risk of algal blooms and protect fish and others relying on the water downstream.
Mr Littleproud said he had offered the NSW government $7.5 million to deliver the program, which could also boost struggling rural economies, with the materials and labour for the fencing likely procured locally.
"Funding will be available to local Landcare services, natural resource management groups and indigenous organisations," he said.
"The work will be done by local businesses, creating local jobs. This is a win-win with a boost for rural economies and the environment."
Mr Littleproud said the riverbanks scheme would keep farm animals out of "sensitive" parts of the river as the drought continues.
"We will see more fish deaths this summer with hot, dry weather forecast and very little water flowing into the river," he said.
"The program will improve water quality and habitat for fish to help their survival."
Downstream at Menindee, Darling River Action Group co-ordinator Ross Leddra said while it might help those up north, the rest of NSW was still headed for a fish kill disaster.
"The water might get to Wilcannia but if we don't get rain further down the Darling the remaining fish in our weir pools will certainly perish," he said.
"We're seeing deaths already and the exceedingly hot summer we're expecting hasn't even hit yet."