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Savings plan

Wednesday, 16th March, 2011

By Andrew Robertson

The boss of the State Water Corporation says he would be happy to see annual savings of up to 40 gigalitres achieved at the Menindee Lakes.

George Warne, who will be in Broken Hill on Friday, yesterday said that State Water was "always keen to improve the flexibility" of the lakes which are at near capacity.

He said savings of 15, 30 or even 40 gigalitres a year would be worthwhile and possible if infrastructure upgrades were made that allowed for greater operational flexibility.

"There's very few structures that help (State Water) manage the lakes," Mr Warne said.

But he was less confident about achieving savings in the order of 200 gigalitres at the lakes - a target set by the federal government for the Darling River Water Savings Project.

Mr Warne said some of the more "radical" proposals identified in that study would not come to fruition.

"I think that's extremely difficult," Mr Warne said.

The Australian Government has committed up to $400 million to reduce evaporation and improve water efficiency at the lakes while securing Broken Hill's water supply.

The water savings study, which was completed last year, identified a number of infrastructure and operational measures for the lakes ranging from minor to including closing both bottom lakes, Cawndilla and Menindee.

A separate study not yet complete is investigating the viability of storing Broken Hill's water in a re-charge aquifer.

A public information session on the operations of Menindee Lakes will be held in city on Friday.

Mr Warne, who is conducting the meeting, said that while he expected questions from people about the water savings project, his main focus would be the current operations of the lakes.

He said that based on current and forecast inflows, between three and four million megalitres of water was expected to pass through the lakes by the time the floodwaters finished.

According to the latest bulletin from the NSW Office of Water, the next expected flood peak will arrive at the lakes late this month.

In the meantime, outflows are being gradually reduced this week which are expected to alleviate virtually all local access issued caused by high water levels.

Mayor Wincen Cuy urged residents to attend the meeting which will be held at the Civic Centre from 8.30am to 10.00am.

"The current modelling and future planning for Menindee Lakes is important for our City and region," Mayor Cuy said. 

"It is important for residents to play their part in the process by asking questions and putting their views forward."

A meeting will also be held at the Menindee Civic Hall on Friday afternoon from 1.30pm to 3pm.

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