North West rainfall: water brings some relief for fish and river wildlife, Keepit Dam on watch | The Northern Daily Leader


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The grass is greener and rivers are flowing after an abundance of rain fell in the Tamworth area – but for river creatures, it’s been a mixed blessing. Dry ground caused initial rainfall to run off the land and “take all the pollution with it”, president of OzFish North West Anne Michie said. “The initial run off needs a good flow behind it,” she said. Significant rainfall created a good flow and gave aquatic animals a much-needed break as “refuge holes” in the region’s rivers were replenished and polluted, muddy water low in oxygen was flushed out. “Rivers need oxygen to survive so they need to run over rocks and ripples … floodwater is muddy but it is also bubbly,” Ms Michie said. But fish aren’t out of hot water yet. Read also: A weir installed at Dungowan village in November last year caused the Peel River to essentially “dry up in eight days”, Ms Michie said. “Theoretically, it could dry up again eight days after the rain stops,” she said. Fish kills are not expected from this rain event, but Ms Michie said she is on high alert. One concern is watching and waiting to see what happens for aquatic animals at Lake Keepit. Heavy rainfall over the past two weeks has brought the Namoi River bubbling back to life and storage levels at Lake Keepit have jumped from 0.61 per cent on January 1 this year to more than 5 per cent. “The water is coming up quickly and bringing debris into the dam,” she said, “and there’s no flow-through effect at Keepit.” “It will be interesting to see what happens,” she said. And it isn’t just fish who need a lifeline. “There are also platypus … water dragons, little creatures like shrimp and turtles … they might not be the ones you love but we rely on them,” Ms Michie said. “Without a healthy river, there can’t be healthy people or a healthy town.” Ms Michie said “no one’s got the answer” about what is needed for species’ to make a full recovery or what the “new normal” might look like following these weather extremes. She is certain part of the solution are the “citizen scientists” down at the river reporting what they see and caring for riverbanks to ensure run-off water is of good quality. Anyone who suspects a fish kill event is encouraged to visit DPI’s website at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/report-it. Support the local news that keeps you informed – subscribe today Have your say. Click this link to send a letter to the editor.

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