The NSW regional water minister has backed the system in place to manage the Murray-Darling river system as he deals with angry locals outraged over more mass fish deaths at Menindee.
Hundreds of thousands of fish are blanketing sections of the Menindee weir pool and the Darling River less than a month after up a million fish died in the same area.
Minister Niall Blair visited Menindee on Tuesday to see first hand what he's termed an "environmental catastrophe".
But his riverbank press conference was hijacked by locals frustrated with the decision to drain the Menindee Lakes in 2017 and the extraction of water by cotton growers.
They insist the Murray-Darling basin has been taken to the brink under the current management plan.
"You put us in this predicament. You let all the water go. The lakes were full," one man said.
"What are you going to do about the cotton?" a woman asked Mr Blair.
The minister said he understood the frustration of residents and argued the meeting with locals was constructive and "polite".
"I don't think the whole system needs to be overhauled," Mr Blair told AAP on Tuesday.
"If we didn't have that (management plan) in place a lot of rivers would have stopped flowing by now."
Cotton Australia says its growers are working with little to no water and are planting few crops due to the drought.
NSW primary industries staff travelled south of Menindee to Redbank Weir near Balranald on Tuesday to confirm reports of more fish deaths on the Murrumbidgee River.
Mr Blair says initial reports suggest hundreds of fish have died: "It's not like what we're seeing in the Darling."
Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who has been criticised for not visiting Menindee on a weekend tour to NSW's west, said she'd wanted to talk to people in towns including Coonabarabran and Walgett.
"Of course I care about the fish, but can I be honest? I care more about people," she told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.
"I'm not denying it's an environmental disaster ... but my priority is to make sure people have water security now and into the future."
The DPI says the Menindee deaths are the result of critically-low levels of dissolved oxygen - likely linked to the mixing of weir pool water following a drop in temperatures in recent days.
The majority of fish affected were Bony Herring with contractors removing up to 700 kilograms of dead fish on Monday, the department said.
Local Graeme McCrabb estimates millions have died in the latest event.
"I'm sitting in a spot here and there are hundreds of thousands within 100 or 200 metres," he told AAP.
"You can smell the dead fish, it'll get worse throughout the day. It's just a waste. An absolute waste."
Mr McCrabb said the town of Menindee was also suffering from a lack of tourists and needed government support to truck in fresh drinking water.
Australian Associated Press