WaterNSW will start increasing releases from the Menindee lakes system late this week (7th October) to deliver water ordered by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), while continuing to operate the lakes to maximise future water security for local users.
In accordance with the longstanding Murray–Darling Basin Agreement, the MDBA may direct releases from Menindee Lakes system until the volume of water in the lakes falls below 480 GL. MDBA releases are made to meet demands in the Murray downstream of the Darling River confluence.
MDBA head of river operations, Andrew Reynolds, said continuing dry conditions over winter has also prompted early transfers from Hume Dam to Lake Victoria to meet River Murray demands over summer and autumn.
“Menindee lakes are shallow and high evaporation losses mean the storages are used ahead of others, such as Dartmouth Dam,” Mr Reynolds said.
“Mindful of the challenges facing the local community, we have limited our releases from the lakes systems to allow for, as much as possible, the preservation of water in Lakes Wetherell and Pamamaroo.”
WaterNSW Executive Manager System Operations, Adrian Langdon, said the Menindee lakes system was managed to supply licensed customers including Essential Water and Lower Darling landholders, as well as ensuring water security for customers along the Murray.
“Having a greater proportion of water in the upper lakes, when the 480 GL trigger is reached, provides greater security to local water users,” Mr Langdon said.
“Safeguards are built into the water sharing arrangements so that the use of Menindee Lakes is limited to protect Broken Hill’s water supply and lower Darling use once lake volumes fall below 480 gigalitres.
“The higher releases in the coming months will continue to provide benefits to the riverine environment though, including flow conditions favourable for native fish.
“WaterNSW’s recent operations have ensured that when the 480 GL trigger is reached, which is likely to occur in mid November, the majority of the water is in the upper two lakes which will be used as storage to meet future needs.”
WaterNSW and the MDBA will provide further details on flow rates in coming weeks. Current dam storage information is available on the WaterNSW website.