River pollution threat from fires

By Geoff Adams

Bushfires burning across the southern basin will impact water quality in some catchments when the rain finally comes, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has warned.

In the latest drought update, MDBA river operations executive director Andrew Reynolds said fires had not impacted river operations or the structures the authority manages, however water quality was likely to be impacted when it rains.

“What we are facing is a double-edged sword,” Mr Reynolds said.

“When we receive the much-needed rain to replenish depleted storages, we expect ash and sediment from the fires to be washed into some of our streams, rivers and dams.

“At this stage we know the fires will have an impact on water in the upper Murray catchment above Hume Dam, but we will be able to make a full assessment when it’s safe for agencies to enter these areas.

“This is the last thing our fire and drought-ravaged communities need right now, but we will work closely with relevant agencies to manage the impacts and bring information to communities as they need it.”

The ongoing dry, hot and windy conditions means water quality continued to deteriorate the past fortnight with nine new areas across NSW and Victoria now on red alert for blue-green algae. This brings the total number of red alerts to 20.

Victorian sites with blue-green algae red alerts are: Tullaroop Reservoir; Lake Eppalock; No 1 lagoon, Torrumbarry Irrigation Area.

NSW sites with blue-green algae red alerts are: Menindee Lakes at Lake Wetherell; Mannus Lake; Lake Wyangala; Lake Windamere; Chifley Dam; Lake Wyangan at Griffith; Murrumbidgee River at Redbank Weir; Burrendong Dam; Macquarie River downstream of Burrendong Dam; Mehi River at Gundare; Namoi River downstream of Keepit Dam; Pindari Dam; Macintyre River at Boggabilla; Lake Copeton; Bogan River at Gongolgon; Barwon River downstream of Brewarrina weir; Darling River at Wilcannia.

The latest drought update is available on the MDBA website: