Monday, 05 Dec 2022

Smells like sewage: blackwater from Victorian floods causes mass fish deaths

Smells like sewage: blackwater from Victorian floods causes mass fish deaths


Smells like sewage: blackwater from Victorian floods causes mass fish deaths

Peter Phillips has spent a lot of time in blackwater.

He paddled 2,000km over 50 days along the Murray River during the 2016 floods. Most of that was in blackwater, an event often caused by flooding when high levels of organic material are washed into the river systems, and which "basically sucks all the oxygen out of the water" as it decays.

He knows what it looks like, smells like, even tastes like.

But the Echuca environmental science teacher said this time things are "unusual". The blackwater is different and "smells like there is sewage in it".

The fish and animals are dying en masse. It is a toxic, painful death.

"The fish deaths in the Murray at Echuca are unusual. It does not appear to be a case of the 'usual' blackwater," he said.

Phillips believes the low levels of dissolved oxygen (DO), which caused "massive fish kills" along parts of the river system, are from sewage leaks upstream.

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