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Release the truth

Saturday, 25th February, 2017

By Daniel Stringer

Questions are being raised once again about the management of the Menindee Lakes with claims the authorities are not being open about how much water is really being released.

WaterNSW announced yesterday that releases from Menindee Lakes would decrease from 4000 megalitres per day to 3250.

However, reports show that the volume of water being drained has been much higher than stated by authorities.

A website called Realtime Data, operated by the NSW Government, as the name suggests offers real time data on water storages across the state. 

According to the website, 17,000ML was drained from Lake Menindee alone on Wednesday this week. 

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has stated that the daily rate of release is 4000ML a day 

Even the live data section on the MDBA’s own website shows that water has been draining significantly faster than 4000ML per day. In fact, between Thursday and yesterday, 12,000Ml was drained in that 24 hour period alone. 

Water activist Tom Kennedy says that the attitude of MDBA had not apparently changed, despite the sorry recent history of the lakes and the Darling River. 

“It surprises me that they would show so little respect for the people of Broken Hill and Menindee, given the way they treated us a few years back,” Mr Kennedy said. 

“What doesn’t surprise me is that they are being dishonest about the rate at which they are draining the lakes, because they have never been fully honest with the community. 

“At the end of the day they don’t want people to know how much and how fast water is actually being released.” 

It has now been 69 days since the system was at its highest volume of 1583 GL, meaning that close to 500,000 ML of water has gushed out over that period. That works out at an average of 6855 ML per day. 

The MDBA said yesterday that it was lowering its stated 400ML per day release rate immediately - to 3250ML a day - because demand for the water downstream had decreased.

Head of River Operations, David Dreverman, says that the lack of demand will allow releases to continue to decline. 

“Demand for water from entitlement holders in the River Murray has started to fall and as a result we need to draw less water from the Menindee Lakes storage,” Mr Dreverman said.

“We currently expect our orders to be wound back gradually over autumn, meaning the amount of water in the lakes is not likely to fall below 600 gigalitres this season.” 

Mr Dreverman defended the MDBA’s decision to drain the lakes, saying that it was the best move for the Murray River system. 

“By using water from Menindee Lakes over summer and autumn, the MDBA has increased the net volume available to water entitlement holders throughout the Murray Valley this year and into next year. 

“This is because much less water is lost through evaporation at Dartmouth than at Menindee Lakes.”

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