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Concerns aired Councillor, MP state Menindee Lakes case

Wednesday, 6th March, 2013

By Emily Roberts

The flow of water being released from Menindee Lakes will be increased tomorrow as local politicians continue to raise concerns about a dramatic drop in water in the lakes.

City Councillor Marion Browne met with two staff from the Murray Darling Basin Authority yesterday, after a council meeting last week resolved to do so.

Member for Murray Darling John Williams has also called on the chair of the authority, Craig Knowles, to clarify the releases.

Clr Browne said she spoke with the authority about the rapid depletion of water from the lakes over Christmas.

"I also raised the issue of ongoing concern of the aquifer development and what a lack of water could mean for the region," she said.

"They were anxious to reassure us that they were always available to talk.

"I think it was a successful meeting."

Mr Williams said the authority needed to address releases from the lakes.

"One problem with sending water down the river is that there is a fair bit of distance between where the water is released and where it ends up.

"This is called transmission and there is quite a bit of water being lost in it."

Mr Williams said he wanted to know what sort of impact it will have.

"Very little water is going into the Murray River because it is being lost."

He said more consultation with the authority would be a good thing for the community.

Mr Knowles responded to Mr Williams and said the Menindee Lakes system was built as a water storage for the lower Darling that could be managed in harmony with the Murray River to help meet the water needs of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

"The water held in Menindee Lakes is owned by New South Wales and Victoria, and both states have an obligation to supply water to South Australia.

"These arrangements are set out in the intergovernmental Murray-Darling Basin Agreement," Mr Knowles said.

Tomorrow, releases from Menindee Lakes to the lower Darling River will increase to about 4,000 megalitres per day. Previously the flow was at 3,600 megalitres per day.

"MDBA recognises that the recent releases from Menindee Lakes have reduced water levels in the lakes and this has affected the local community," Mr Knowles said.

"However, the releases have provided both economic and environmental benefits along the lower Darling River and the River Murray.

"In an effort to keep as much water as possible in Lakes Wetherell and Pamamaroo for Broken Hill and the local area, most of the releases since 22 January this year (more than 3000 ML/day) have been from Lakes Menindee and Cawndilla."

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