EPA begins $5 million water quality monitoring program for Darling Barka
Water quality monitoring in the Darling Barka River will get a boost under a $5 million NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) disaster recovery program as part of its ongoing response to fish kills in and around Menindee Lakes earlier this year.
The program will monitor the health of the Darling Barka through comprehensive water sampling, river health assessment and Aboriginal knowledge practice from now until June 2025.
The EPA will also work with the local community to design projects to enhance local capacity to monitor river health before and after major events by providing training in how to use equipment and interpret data collected.
Water samples will be analysed for nutrients, dissolved oxygen, heavy metals, pesticides, algae and overall river health which will improve community and government understanding of river conditions.
This sampling will monitor key river health indicators using automated sampling equipment to give the earliest possible indications when there are changes in river water health.
The EPA will be working with Barkandji people to support recovery and ensure cultural values are central to water quality monitoring and river health.
Results will be shared with the community on the EPA webpage when available and printed copies will be distributed through outlets in Menindee.
The EPA will hold a community meeting in coming weeks to discuss the program and hear from locals about their environmental needs and concerns.
The program is funded by the joint Commonwealth and NSW Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements facilitated by the NSW Reconstruction Authority.
To learn more about Menindee water testing in response to the fish deaths visit the EPA website.
Quotes attributable to NSW Minister for Environment Penny Sharpe:
“It was devastating to see the dead fish when we visited Menindee Lakes earlier this year.”
“El Nino has been declared, which means we will see more dry weather. This monitoring and information will be vital to helping us spot a decline in water quality early.”
“We want to empower the community with monitoring and data capacity as well as use local knowledge, stories and river history to better understand how the Darling Barka behaves and inform river management going forward.”
“Importantly this program will also work with the Barkandji people on Country to learn from their expertise on how we can best support cultural values and knowledge in recovery.”
Quotes attributable to NSW Minister for Water Rose Jackson:
“Ongoing monitoring of the water quality of the Darling Barka will provide us with new, environmentally focused data to help the community, researchers and decisions makers understand the river’s health, particularly as we move into another challenging dry season.”
“Using the latest technology, including telemetered buoys at key sites, we can more closely monitor critical water quality parameters such as dissolved oxygen and cyanobacteria, two measurements critical to the health of fish and other wildlife in the river.”
“The health of our rivers and waterways is a key priority for the NSW Government and we will continue to work with the community around Menindee to support the recovery from the disasters experienced in early 2023.”
Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek:
“This exciting new program will combine cultural knowledge of the Barka with western science.”
“This joint investment will improve our forecasting capabilities and help us prevent future fish kills in the Darling Barka.”
“Improved monitoring capabilities will allow us to act early, making more informed decisions to support native species like the Murray Cod.”
“Water for the environment is another important tool in the recovery of the Darling Barka.”
“In order to restore this vital river system, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder is currently delivering water to support native fish habitat, breeding and recovery.”