- Droughts, heatwaves, and algal blooms are contributing to low levels of oxygen in some Australian lakes and rivers.
- Roughly one million dead fish were found in a river in New South Wales last week.
- To stop more fish from dying, the state government will use aerators to pump oxygen into waterways.
- Niall Blair, the minister for regional water, acknowledged that these machines are only a temporary solution.
A state government in Australia plans on pumping oxygen into rivers and lakes in response to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of fish.
Nearly one million rotting fish were found in a New South Wales river last week, and another 1,800 dead fish have been spotted in a lake since then, according to the Associated Press.
To counteract the low levels of oxygen in the state’s waterways, the government has bought 16 aerators that will pump oxygen into lakes and rivers affected by drought.
According to the AP, experts have said the low oxygen levels in lakes and rivers are the product of droughts, heatwaves, and algal blooms. The dead fish are rotting quickly because of high temperatures; some parts of New South Wales have recently seen highs of about 114 degrees Fahrenheit, The Independent reported.
Officials are working on cleaning the waterways that contain dead fish, but Daniel Connell, a water expert at Australian National University, told the AP that more fish will likely die this week amid the ongoing heatwaves.
The Independent reported that critics of the New South Wales government believe that poor management decisions have worsened the effects of droughts in the area. Five years ago, the government cut 60% of the funding for river management in New South Wales, leading to delays in maintenance and environment audits.Because of these cuts, local governments have been less informed when making policy decisions about the basin.
Connell told the AP that the government likely contributed to droughts and worse water quality in rivers when it allowed farmers to take water from Australia’s primary water system, the Murray-Darling Basin, to irrigate crops.
“By massively reducing the amount of water in the system, you produce much hotter water, you produce conditions that are much more conducive to algal blooms,” he told the AP.
Niall Blair, the minister for regional water, said these fish will only stop dying if the river flows are improved and the water levels in dams return to normal, according to the AP. He acknowledged that the aerators will not fix the problem.
“They are a Band-Aid solution; we admit that,” Blair said.
- Read more about droughts and heatwaves in Australia:
- Farming impact of Australia’s worst drought in living memory
- Parts of NSW will hit 47 degrees today as a heatwave sweeps across the country