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Lakes flow imminent

Tuesday, 10th March, 2020

By Craig Brealey

The river is high and rising at Wilcannia and the flows should reach Menindee within days, according to Water NSW. 

Its spokesman, Tony Webber, said yesterday that although some of that water will soak into the dry river bed, continuing rain in the north should ensure that about 200 gigalitres makes it into Lake Wetherell at Menindee.

“It has moved past Wilcannia already so we anticipate that it will reach Menindee by the middle or the end of this week,” Mr Webber said.

“It’s moving a bit ahead upstream but the fact is the last leg between Wilcannia and Lake Wetherell will be a dry journey and that will slow it down,” he said.

The 200 gigalitres would increase the lakes’ capacity by 11 to 12 per cent, said Mr Webber.

“Plan A is to store it in Lake Wetherell to avoid the losses of wetting Lake Pamamaroo.

“The Namoi and Gwydir flows have generated much of this and they are dropping away but we anticipate the flows from the Culgoa-Bokhara will generate as much as 150 gigalitres.

“The Warrego flows will generate 20 to 40 gigaltres additionally and that will replace the decline in the flows from the Namoi and gives us confidence that 200 gigalitres will get into Lake Wetherell.

Mr Webber said there were still quite high flows at Wilcannia - “about 10,000 megalitres a day and rising”.

“If that volume materialises in the lakes it will represent 12 months’ supply for the lower Darling.”

Mr Webber said the block banks (or weir pools) in the lower Darling that were constructed to keep a supply for Pooncarie and station properties, would be demolished so as not to impede the flows.

“The four block banks, including the one between Pamamaroo and Copi Hollow, will be removed and we are talking to local landholders and government agencies around how the releases to the lower Darling will be structured to maximise the human and environmental needs.”

Mr Webber said it was possible that more water could be on its way to replenish the river and the lakes, most of which are dry.

“It’s still raining across northern New South Wales so this might not be the end of it,” he said.

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