Calls for the introduction of new structures to help strengthen the fish population in the Macquarie River have been backed a leading expert in the wake of a massive fish kill in the Dubbo region.
Professor Lee Baumgartner, a freshwater ecologist at Charles Sturt University, said more fish screens and ladders would reduce the number of fish being taken out of rivers and allow them to migrate more easily.
However, he said long-term climate related water challenges needed to be acknowledged and addressed by the community and governments.
"At the end of the day it really comes down to water management and making sure we've got more water in the river for longer and that might require a rethink of how we operate our dams, how we store water for rivers, how we extract water more efficiently," Professor Baumgartner said.
"It's a changed climate and it's been happening over the last 50 to 60 years... we're seeing hotter and drier summers and more intense, short term weather events like storms and supercells going through.
"If this is now becoming the norm we have to rethink the way we manage our rivers. The way we've been doing things for the last 50 years probably isn't going to work going forward. We've seen fish kills in so many inland rivers in the last 12 months."
According to Professor Baumgartner, innovative long-term thinking is needed to minimise evaporation of water and other countries have done work in that space which Australians can learn from.
"For off-river storages they're covering the whole thing with floating solar panels which can save 600 litres of evaporation a year, per square metre which is covered," Professor Baumgartner told Australian Community Media.
"There's a lot of space for rethinking innovation in the way we deliver and distribute water. Can you use more water effective crops? Can we achieve fish spawning outcomes with less water than we think at the moment?"
The "sheer pace" of climate volatility and need for swift responses to the short-term consequences have been the main barriers to improved water management, Professor Baumgartner suggested.
"At the start of this drought we went through a period of 14 months where parts of the Murray Darling Basin were the wettest on record... 18 months later the same parts were the driest on record."
"No one anticipated that would have happened. It's normally a slow transition."