Another Black Water Fish Kill feared

Water quality of a Third World country at our doorstep

Jancine Harrison lives alongside Rocky Mouth Creek at Woodburn, and holds great fears of another major fish kill in the Richmond River. She submitted these thoughts and pictures to Ballina Info …

In my opinion conditions are ripe once again for another fish kill in the Richmond River, just as Rocky Mouth Creek is currently experiencing.

As I sit beside Rocky Mouth Creek which flows into the Richmond River less than two kilometres downstream, I can barely stand the stench of the black water coated in a film of white scum, and the sight of three small fish struggling with their heads totally emerged, going by.
This is the result of the recent rises in the river levels of last week and water backing up on the surrounding floodplains, in particular, drains which were implemented mainly in the 1960s as part of the government’s Flood Mitigation program. The aim was to drain wetlands to make way for farming.

The water is trapped and in this case blocked by floodgates in these drains which are deep and exposed to acid sulphate soils until river levels recede.  This also appears to be exacerbated by warm temperatures that cause the rotting of introduced vegetation not native to wetland areas, being submerged by water. This rapidly deoxygenates the water and makes it impossible to sustain any form of life.

Many scientific studies have been funded by governement departments over the past twenty years or more at great expense.  Do we have to wait until damage is irreversible for another twenty years and all life has ceased to exist in and along these rivers and tributaries? I feel the governments and powers-that-be have an obligation to this country to put right the past uninformed decisions to drain these delicate eco-wetland systems that are an integral part of the health of our environment.

With predictions of climate change, rising sea levels, temperatures and more regular flooding predicted for our area, I don’t think that we have the luxury of time to ignore this problem.  The remedies for the recovery of these wetland areas is a slow process as they need to be rehabilitated with native wetland species of grasses and trees, as well as reducing depths of drains on agricultural land.

We all need to push goverment departments as a matter of urgency to begin to implement and fund these issues, or there will be no such thing as clean water, fishing or tourism in our area for future generations to enjoy.

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