A fish kill at a lake at Corop in Central Victoria is worrying residents and visitors who fear a larger one may be on the horizon.
Invasive European carp lay on the banks of Fresh Lake, a back lake adjacent to Greens Lake.
Nearby residents, anglers and recreational users of the 32,500-megalitre Greens Lake say a fish kill is imminent as the water level sits at 7105ML, or 22 per cent.
They say it is too low and needs to be topped up to stop it drying out and potentially killing fish, tourism and the communities that rely on it.
But the Victorian Government says it is very unlikely that there will be a fish kill in Greens Lake.
‘Floating onto the shore, dead’
Lisa Foster is from Rochester and posted photos of the fish kill to social media after visiting the lake on Tuesday.
“I saw lots of dead carp,” Ms Foster said.
“I took the dogs down there for a swim and they [the fish] are just all floating onto the shore — dead.
Ms Foster said it was a confronting experience at the lake.
“When the dogs went in, all this black mud came up and it stinks like sewage. It’s horrible,” she said.
Lake has environmental, recreational value: MP
Independent Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed will write to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to ask for water for Greens Lake.
She met with the acting Victorian Water Minister Richard Wynne yesterday to discuss her concerns about the future of the lake.
“One is with the Victorian Environmental Water Holder and the other with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and Greens Lake has environmental and recreational values.”
Greens Lake is 22 per cent full and is a decommissioned storage lake connected to Fresh Lake by a channel.
Geographically, they are considered separate but to locals they remain one and the same.
Fish kill event ‘unlikely’
An assessment of the condition of Greens Lake has found the water quality is good and able to support fish populations.
Researchers from the Arthur Rylah Institute visited the lake last week.
They tested the water and surveyed the fish population after concerns were raised there could be a fish death event.
In recent years, the lake was restocked with more than 300,000 Murray cod and golden perch at a cost of $1.5 million.
In a statement last week, a spokesperson from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning said it was “very unlikely” that a fish death event would be “imminent” at Greens Lake.
Water quality ‘good’, says scientist
The principal research scientist with Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Jarod Lyon, said he was happy with the dissolved oxygen levels and temperature of the water.
“My take is that the water quality at the moment is good and we believe that the fish kill is not imminent so there is up to 3 metres deep,” he said.
But Ms Foster does not agree with the assessment and says Fresh lake, which she says is one body of water with the adjoining Greens Lake, is emptying out.
Ms Sheed wants an extra 10 gigalitres of water to be allocated to the lake to avoid a potential fish kill.
‘It’s going to dry out the community’: resident
VRFish, the recreational fishing peak body in Victoria, is also calling on the acting Water Minister to immediately deliver water to Greens Lake to prevent an impending and devastating fish kill from occurring.
Corop resident Alan Lee told ABC Radio he was worried the water would disappear.
Mr Lyon says there should be more regular testing of the water in Greens Lake.
“There’s people in the local catchment management authorities, or water authorities, that might be able to implement a bit more of a regimented regime of taking a few more water quality tests,” he said.
“I suppose, if nothing else, to allay any community concerns.”