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Residents rejoice as water enters Menindee

Tuesday, 16th March, 2010

* Menindee residents Beryl and John Christophers (above) were among the crowd of people who took in the sight of water flowing into Menindee Lake yesterday. The pair said they didn't expect Menindee and Cawndilla to be filled and that it was a * Menindee residents Beryl and John Christophers (above) were among the crowd of people who took in the sight of water flowing into Menindee Lake yesterday. The pair said they didn't expect Menindee and Cawndilla to be filled and that it was a "beautiful sight".

Water started flowing into Lake Menindee yesterday for the first time since 2002.

The gates from Lake Pamamaroo opened in the morning and a steady stream of people were there throughout the day to hear the sound of rushing water and witness the occasion. Since the flooding in northern NSW over the holiday break, about 1,070,000 megalitres of water have passed by Wilcannia. Lakes Wetherall and Pamamaroo are full and 580 gigalitres have been released downstream.

More flooding in Queensland means there's even more water on the way - finally enough for the gates into Menindee Lake to open. While it's not known exactly how much water will reach the lakes, NSW Water said yesterday that lakes Menindee and Cawndilla were expected to be filled to near capacity over the next month or so.

It's welcome yet unexpected news for residents of Menindee and Sunset Strip. Ron and Kerry Tonkin have lived in Sunset Strip for eight years. They were with a large group of locals watching the release yesterday morning.

Mrs Tonkin said that when they heard the gates would be opened, they came along to "make sure it was really happening," she said. When the couple moved out from Broken Hill, Menindee held a "knee deep puddle of water" that soon disappeared. Since then their shack has looked out over a dry lake bed.

Mr Tonkin said that, after eight years, yesterday's news was very good indeed. "I hope there's enough coming down. I hope we have the water for a while," he said. "This might shut the South Australians up for a bit." Tourists have already started trickling back to Sunset Strip and Menindee, Mr Tonkin said, and yesterday's release could only help, he said.

"It's not just drinking. It's good for tourism and for business in Menindee. We're jumping for joy," he said. Mrs Tonkin said bird life was already returning and she was looking forward to a break from dust blowing through her home. "Easter is going to be good. There might be a bit of a beach celebration on the way," she said.

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