Water and Environment Ministers must meet urgently to deal with mass fish kills and safe drinking water

Reports today of another mass fish kill in NSW caused by ash and sediment from bushfires running into the Macleay River, is the disaster experts had been warning about and needs an urgent response from water ministers, the Greens say.

Greens Spokesperson for Water Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said:

“I wrote to state and federal Water and Environment Ministers yesterday urging them to meet as a matter of urgency to coordinate a joint effort across fire-affected states to ensure safe, clean water supply.

“Today we hear of a 70km long mass fish kill on the NSW mid north coast – this didn’t just happen overnight and the catastrophe isn’t over yet. The Federal Government needs to tell us what they did to mitigate such a disaster and what they are doing to prevent future fish kill events.

“No government can say they weren’t warned. More fish kills, like that seen at Menindee last summer, had already been forecast for this summer due to drought.

“Experts have predicted waterway and catchment contamination because of ash, debris and carcass run off, posing a risk to drinking water and leading to the starvation of oxygen in our rivers and lakes.

“The Murray-Darling Basin Authority reported this week that bushfires burning across the southern Basin will impact water quality in some catchments when the rain finally comes.

“The Federal Government must lead an urgent Water Pollution Action Plan to deal with the immediate water crisis and looming consequences for Australia’s water security.

“Right now we are seeing one ecological disaster after another because of the fires. This is what the Climate Emergency looks like. The Federal Government was warned and failed to adequately prepare. They must not continue to be so complacent when public health and the future of native species is at risk.”

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