National 2.8.2016 01:40 pm

Rapid water level rise proves fatal for fish

Excessive algae in KZN's Lake Mzingazi have been detrimental to many fish. Photo: Zululand Observer

Excessive algae in KZN's Lake Mzingazi have been detrimental to many fish. Photo: Zululand Observer

Good rains bring life and death to Lake Mzingazi in KwaZulu-Natal.

While welcome winter rains have raised the level of Lake Mzingazi Dam to more than 40%, thousands of fish have reportedly died as a result, reports the Zululand Observer.

The dam is situated on the Mzingazi River, near Richards Bay in KZN.

First reported over the weekend, at present the edges of the lake are littered with rotting fish and the stench is rapidly becoming unbearable.

Environmentalists have taken water and dead fish samples to determine the exact cause of death but initial explanations favour a depletion of oxygen coupled with temperature inversions.

“With the lake having falling to extremely shallow levels during the drought, intrusion of salt water has been a problem and some fish might not have been able to cope with the salinity balance,” said Ezemvelo District Conservation Manager Frans Mthembu.

“We will need to wait a few days for the results before we are certain.”

And while the fish have been declared unsafe for human consumption it is feared many might disregard this warning.

Meanwhile, Lake Mzingazi is recovering well thanks to the excellent July rains, and is well above the 31% minimum abstraction level.

However, authorities said earlier this year the lake level would have to recover to 80% capacity before abstraction would resume.

Caxton News Service

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