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Tourists flock to flowing Menindee Lakes

Saturday, 22nd May, 2021

By Emily McInerney

Visitors have been travelling in droves to see the water flowing even with the announcement that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has begun releasing a small amount of water from Menindee Lakes.
The release of 3,500 megalitres per day was in response to recent dry conditions across the Southern Basin.
MDBA Executive Director of River Management, Andrew Reynolds, said the Authority had consulted with the local community in partnership with WaterNSW, and was taking on board feedback around the best way to release the water, without impacting landholders and residents.
A peak of around 3,500 megalitres per day will be targeted over the next three weeks.
“WaterNSW estimates that between 800 and 1,000 gigalitres will enter the lakes, so the 20 to 30 gigalitres we will be releasing over a three-week period, represents four per cent of the total volume expected to arrive,” Mr Reynolds said.
President of the Darling River Action Group and Sunset Strip resident, Ross Leddra, said, “For this amount to go down the river is understandable, but that should be it and then we should go back to low flows”.
“The sticking point will be when the Government looks at the Lakes in late spring/early summer. We need to approach them in a unified manner now and hammer into the MDBA that the Lakes shouldn’t be emptied.
“I think with all the officials visiting recently, we will have a bit of support.”
Mr Leddra said he doesn’t want to see the same mistakes from 2014-15 and 2017 repeated.
“They say they are obligated under the (Murray-Darling Basin) plan to make those releases, but I would like to know where that is written. We don’t want them to get back into past practices.”
Menindee resident Graeme McCrabb said residents were understanding of the releases as well.
“I haven’t heard anyone going crook about it. Having flows down the river is a good thing. I think they will start bringing a bit from Menindee Lakes and some from Lake Wetherell as well.”
The flows have created the perfect conditions for tourists.
“Menindee is a different place with water,” Mr Leddra said.
“I was in Menindee during the week and the amount of cars that were there is unbelievable. They were parked on both sides of the street, in the pub car park and the dining room of the pub was full and people were in the courtyard.
“The place is packed.”
Mr Leddra said Mr McCrabb was showing around one of Minister Pavey’s advisors who noted how full the town was.
“We made the point that when there is water the economy grows.”
Mr McCrabb said Menindee was coming alive.
“There are a massive amount of people here, there are about 30 - 40 cars at the motel and 30 more in the street. Everyone is busy - the cafe, hotel, motel and supermarket.”
He also said he has been to see the water coming through many times.
“It looks great. There is a novelty to watching water coming in and it doesn’t wear off. I’ve been a few times to watch now.”
The lakes are currently 45 per cent full, holding more than 770 gigalitres and rising, with storages increasing by 17,000 megalitres every day on average over the past week.
“As the most significant volume of water to enter the lakes in five years, it’s critical that we draw on this water carefully and maximise the benefits to everyone with a stake in this resource,” Mr Reynolds said.
The volume of water in the Menindee Lakes surpassed 640 gigalitres on May 7, triggering water-sharing arrangements agreed between New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement.
At that point, the MDBA can access water in the lakes on behalf of Basin states until the lakes drop back to 480 gigalitres.
For more information about the Menindee Lakes visit: www.mdba.gov.au/river-information/running-river-murray/menindee-lakes

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