Pam Clarke of North Lakes Estate in Ballina is upset that Ballina Council refused to return to clean up rotting fish that died in a canal behind her home. Council removed the surface fish but are restricted from doing more by health and safety regulations.
Pam Clarke of North Lakes Estate in Ballina is upset that Ballina Council refused to return to clean up rotting fish that died in a canal behind her home. Council removed the surface fish but are restricted from doing more by health and safety regulations. Jay Cronan

Overwhelmed by putrid fish smell

PAM and Peter Clarke were hoping to enjoy the recent balmy weather in the backyard of their Ballina home until they opened their back doors and were overwhelmed by a horrible smell.

The couple live in the North Lakes estate and their home backs onto a canal which, as it turns out, was the location of a significant fish kill last week.

Mrs Clarke said council workers cleaned up hundreds of dead fish that were scattered in the lakes of the estate.

However, they did not pick up all of them and some are now rotting in the canal behind their house.

The result is a revolting stench that greets the Clarkes when they go to bask in the afternoon sun.

"In the afternoon we have had to lock our house up and can't come outside because the smell is vile when the sun is on the fish," Mrs Clarke said.

"No one should have to live like that."

Mrs Clarke said she called Ballina Shire Council twice last week to report the dead fish behind her house.

"They said they couldn't do anything because it's a health and safety issue," she said.

"What we are saying is what about our health?"

Mrs Clarke believes the spill gates connected to the estate's canal system needed to be opened to flush out the canals.

Ballina Shire Council manager of open spaces and reserves Jillian Pratten said council workers were able to collect the dead fish in the lakes of the estate while they were still standing on the banks and reaching in with their nets.

"Where they could access them, they have got them," Mrs Pratten said.

However, the council workers could not physically enter the water to collect dead fish.

When asked if they could enter the canals through residents' backyards, Mrs Pratten said they would if they were "invited".

"(But) it needs to be safe to get to the fish," she said.

"The workers can't go in the water. The main problem is we can't get access into some areas.

"Some of the banks are quite steep."

The Department of Primary Industries previously told The Northern Star the fish kill was most probably from low oxygen levels in the water and Mrs Pratten also believed this was the cause.


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