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Water supply until March

Saturday, 29th September, 2018

By Craig Brealey

The Menindee Lakes will not run dry by December and will continue to supply Broken Hill until March, according to Water NSW.

The BDT reported yesterday that the lakes would be out of water by the end of the year and that graziers on the Darling River between Menindee and Pooncarie were worried because block banks promised by the NSW Government one year ago had not been built.

With the river running dry, the concern was that there would be no water left to hold in these blocks banks by the time they were built.

But Water NSW said that work to construct the two block banks, or weir pools, between Menindee and Pooncarie could not occur until the banks built below Pooncarie to Wentworth were full.

The Executive Manager of Water NSW, Adrian Langdon, said earlier this week that the work had been timed to allow for flows down the Darling from summer rain in the northern catchment, but this rain had not eventuated.

Yesterday, Water NSW said the work had not been delayed and the time frames provided had not changed.

A Water NSW spokesman provided the following statement.

“Water NSW has commenced transferring water from Lake Pamamaroo to Copi Hollow, while block banks constructed on the Lower Darling extend essential water supplies to landholders.

“Block banks built to create weir pools at Jamesville and Ashvale are approximately half full, providing water for stock and domestic needs as well as sustaining permanent plantings. 

“Two additional block banks will be constructed upstream once sufficient water is collected in the Jamesville and Ashvale weir pools over coming weeks.

“Transfers totalling 10,000 megalitres from Lake Pamamaroo to Copi Hollow will occur at a rate of up to 300 megalitres per day and continue into November to extend supply to Broken Hill until at least mid-March 2019 without any replenishment inflows.

“This water efficiency measure is consistent with Water NSW’s operations plan and is intended to reduce surface area, and therefore evaporation, as the lakes’ total falls to 9.7 per cent and inflows remain absent.

“The lakes currently hold a combined total of 135,000 ML: 105,000 ML in Lake Pamamaroo and 30,000 ML in Lake Wetherell. 

“Releases continue from Pamamaroo at a rate of 260 ML/day to target a flow rate of 220 ML/day at Weir 32.

“Once constructed the four block banks - funded by the NSW Government - will extend supply for stock and domestic water and permanent plantings for up to 12 months.”

“The difficult conditions being experienced in the Lower Darling and the absence of flow in major northern tributaries are a direct result of the enduring dry conditions across the northern half of regional NSW.

“The block banks are already providing vital water to Lower Darling landholders who would otherwise be reduced to making do with dwindling river flows and the prospect of zero flows post December without significant inflows to the lakes.”

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