Associate Professor Skye Wassens, Dr Damian Michael and Dr Daryl Baldwin
On the evening of January 26 to 27, 2019, thousands of dead fish including Murray cod, golden perch, silver perch, bony herring (bream) and carp died in Redbank Weir on the Murrumbidgee River. The fish kill coincided with the last of three major fish kills upstream on the Darling River at Menindee.
Subsequently, ILWS researchers were engaged to conduct a Short Term Monitoring and Evaluation Activity from February 7 to March 18 to monitor dissolved oxygen (DO) levels and water temperature in the Murrumbidgee River. Data analysis and a summary of observations were provided to the Murrumbidgee Technical Advisory Group on a daily basis at the completion of each field trip.
This “real-time” data contributed to daily water management decisions made during the 2019 Murrumbidgee refuge environmental watering action.
The project’s final report determined the proximate cause or causes of the fish kill that occurred at Redbank Weir in late January 2019; examined management responses to the fish kill, specifically the use of environmental water to improve fish habitat and mitigate poor water quality conditions in Redbank Weir and prevent other fish kills in Maude and Balranald Weir pools; reported on monitoring efforts before, during and immediately after the fish kill in order to inform future monitoring programs; and made recommendations on potential ways the river can be operated into the future to minimise fish kills.
Following a review of the data collection undertaken as well as the management decisions taken, the report contained 13 recommendations around the issues of monitoring and reporting, river management and knowledge gaps. The three key management recommendations that relate to monitoring and evaluation and river management are:
Baldwin, D.S. (2019) Weir stratification and hypoxic water management - Murrumbidgee River 2019. A report prepared for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office. 45 pp
The findings and recommendations from the report will assist water managers in making future management decisions that may mitigate the risk of similar events in the future.
A/Prof Skye Wassens email
Dr Damian Michael email