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Water on the way

Thursday, 2nd February, 2012

By Paula Doran

The NSW Office of Water has made urgent water releases from the Menindee Lakes as inland tributaries at the top of the Darling system swell dramatically under massive rain.
While the towns hardest hit in southern Queensland and northern NSW were yesterday evacuating ahead of rapidly rising rivers, the Department of Primary Industries was preparing for huge volumes of water to flow into the Darling River and down to Menindee.
The rainfall continued yesterday, causing floods in two major Darling River tributaries, the Gwydir and the Namoi.    
The Gwydir region was particularly hard hit, with 150 millimetres of rain in 24 hours.
At one gauging station upstream of Moree on the same river, 300,000 megalitres of water (more than half the volume of Sydney Harbour) was being measured per day.  
All around the interior in towns more famous as outbackí than riverfront, the SES and Shire Councils were battening the hatches against floodwaters. In the town of Mitchell, east of Charleville, they were expecting a flood to rival the record flood of 1990.  
Further south, St George, a town that made the headlines in last year’s big floods, residents were facing the prospect of two river systems combining in the next two days to create another record watercourse.
And as the list of rain-drenched inland towns continued to mount, water managers began preparing for the fact that much of that water could be in the Menindee Lakes within months.
Brian Graham, Surface Water Manager from the NSW Office of Water, said it was impossible to know how much water would make its way to Menindee.  
“Every flood event is unique. The catchment will respond to different flood events differently.
“Our main objective is to begin work now by increasing the release of flows out of Menindee, which will eventually protect the Menindee township from flooding when the big flows do arrive. We will certainly do everything we can to avoid flooding of low lying houses.”
State Water estimates the flood waters from this week’s flow will arrive in Menindee late next month at the earliest.
But with floodwaters already expected from rainfall late last year, water managers will be operating at peak hour to make sure there is enough space in the lakes to accommodate the large flows.
Releases from Weir 32 have been increased from 15,000 megalitres per day to 20,000, effective immediately.
Meanwhile, in the north of the State, more rain is forecast today.

Water usage crucial in mines’ future

Wednesday, 11th January, 2012

How mining companies use water and, more importantly, how they can reduce their consumption will be one of the biggest challenges for the sector in the year ahead.

That’s according to a report from key forecaster, Deloittes, on the immediate future in energy and resources.

The report states that the mining sector is confronting a period of increasing complexity where the convergence of global issues such as the end of ‘easy’ oil, increased geopolitical risk and debate over climate change are combining with emerging new energy sources and technologies to present both challenges and opportunity for the industry.

Deloitte’s national energy and resource leader, Keith Jones said the pace of change affecting the sector had significant implications for government, industry and consumers.

Rain means more water for irrigators

Friday, 23rd December, 2011

Irrigators have been given access to more water in the Darling downstream of the Menindee Lakes, including the Anabranch. 

NSW Commissioner for Water, David Harriss, said the supplementary access for water licence holders would continue until January 23.

“This period of supplementary access is due to the increased releases from the Menindee Lakes for flood operations,” Mr Harriss said.

Basin boss puts case to angry irrigators

Friday, 16th December, 2011

The Chairman of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), Craig Knowles, has appealed to thousands of people in Griffith to think hard about their decisions on water reform.

In scenes reminiscent of last year’s Draft Plan on water reform, Griffith locals were passionate in their opposition.

News reports of vocal protests and heckling were dotted with those more creative  - one, a group carrying a coffin, wearing black arm bands and calling for Federal Water Minister Tony Burke to take a stand against water buy-backs from irrigation country.

Basin plan is just the start

Monday, 28th November, 2011

As the long-awaited Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Plan finally reaches official release today, water experts around the country are stressing the need for sustainability in how we manage our liquid resources.

In a report released by the Australian Water Association (AWA) this month, a survey of national water leaders found that while many felt our domestic town supplies were being managed well, there was still great need for improved efficiency.

Paul Liggins from Deloittes said the report was the culmination of a year’s work and found that many water supply operators felt the sector was in general good health.

He said areas for improvement were outlined, however, with sector leaders stressing the need for improved efficiency and a price review to ensure costs were covered in their entirety.

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