What happens when the 'last resort' on the Darling River dries out?

Jeremy Buckingham right could not stand the stench any longer

It comes after a Facebook video posted by local farmers Dick Arnold and Rob McBride went viral online, as they showed shocking footage of the bloated carcasses of the huge fish.

Image: There have been four mass fish deaths since Christmas on the Darling River.

The NSW Government is in talks with the Commonwealth about operating rules and water-sharing arrangements, he added.

Mr McBride said: "This is nothing to do with drought, this is a man-made disaster".

The town of Menindee "stinks" and there are fears more fish will die as the water quality continues to worsen, local Kate McBride told AAP on Friday.

"It's devastating to see the hundreds of thousands of fish killed earlier this week and we believe this is one of the largest fish kills ever seen", Mr Blair later said in a statement.

The die-off, the fourth in the Murray-Darling Basin in recent months, has drawn widespread attention to the plight of the country's river system.

Ranchers and other residents say government water policies are the real cause.

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A lack of water in the Darlin River and the Menindee Lakes means that authorities were unable to flush the system before millions of fish suffocated through a lack of oxygen in water.

"On the Barwon-Darling, the impact on cotton production is even more devastating with zero hectares of cotton being grown in Bourke this season, down from 4,000 hectares the year before", the general manager of Cotton Australia, Michael Murray, said. "But the river droughts are happening more often and they're more intense as a result of the irrigation industry in the Darling diverting water from the river over the last 10 to 20 years".

"In hindsight, this was probably a poor decision, but it does highlight the incredibly hard task of managing flows in a manner that minimise losses, but ensures enough water is available for communities and the environment during extended severe droughts".

"The scale of this disaster is extraordinary and unprecedented", Mr Daley said.

"It's taking too much water. the fish kills point to our failure with the current implementation of the basin plan", he said.

He's requested an urgent report into the mass fish deaths.

"It should be inconceivable that a $13 billion water reform developed in response to drought has failed at its first drought", she said.

"Cotton Australia is very proud of our industry that produces a quality fibre that is in demand both here at home and around the world; but as an industry we are growing very exhausted of being "the whipping boy" for all the problems that are being brought on by this crippling drought".

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