Running on empty
Wednesday, 17th September, 2014
Water restrictions will be introduced next month if there are no good inflows into Menindee Lakes in the coming weeks, Essential Water announced last night.
The call comes after a NSW Office of Water's announcement that storage in Menindee Lakes has fallen below 18 months' of town supply.
Essential Water Far West Manager, Guy Chick, urged residents to apply simple water-saving measures around the home now.
"In past years, the community has embraced voluntary water restrictions, removing the need to introduce formal restriction levels when water levels have fallen significantly," Mr Chick said.
"We would be grateful to see local residents embrace similar water efficiencies during this forecast period of dry hot conditions."
He said Level 1 water restrictions would need to be introduced from October 13 if Menindee did not receive significant flows.
This month, the NSW Minister for Natural Resources and Water, Kevin Humphries, announced a plan to spend $5 million to sink 12 bores near Sunset Strip at Lake Menindee.
At the time, the minister said the bores would not replace the lakes as the city's main water supply, but could be used if that supply ran out.
Local MP John Williams is now backing his government's controversial decision despite saying in May this year that government investigations into groundwater were "absolutely stupid".
"Who's going to pay to extract water from this bore? Who's going to pay for the cost?" he told the BDT.
"I don't support it in any way and I will be disgusted if this government keeps investing money into this crazy notion."
But last week the Member for Murray-Darling presented a private member's bill to parliament in support of the plan.
"This announcement was a result of the forecasted water supply for Broken Hill and the challenges it faces from lack of intakes into the tributaries of the Darling," Mr Williams said.
"The river is ceasing to flow and we do not want to put ourselves in a situation that we have been in the past."
He said discussion began about an alternative means to supply water to Broken Hill when the supply from the lakes became "critical" in 2006.
Mr Williams criticised the Murray-Darling Basin Authority - the organisation that currently control releases - for releasing too much water from the lakes.
"The amount of water lost in transmission in tributary streams and billabongs ... there seems to be a complete disregard for this," Mr Williams said.