WaterNSW has started pumping water from Tandure to Wetherell, to ensure maximum usage of water in the system to support local communities.
The construction of a block bank between Lake Tandure and Lake Wetherell is consistent with WaterNSW’s operations plan for the lakes, and is intended to reduce surface area and therefore evaporation as the lakes total falls to 15 per cent of capacity and inflows cease.
Releases continue from Lake Pamamaroo to target a flow rate of 200ML/day at Weir 32.
Despite zero inflows, water security projections for the Lower Darling remain unchanged at nine months of supply under a worst case scenario of continued zero inflows into the lakes system caused by prolonged dry conditions in northern NSW.
The Menindee lakes system currently holds 264 gigalitres (GL), while the storage levels of Copeton Dam (410GL) on the Gwydir River, and Keepit Dam (66GL) on the Namoi continue to fall.
A WaterNSW spokesperson said the difficult conditions being experienced in the Lower Darling the near-absence of flow in major northern tributaries demonstrated the impact of the enduring dry conditions.
“Communities and landholders in the Gywdir and Namoi valleys are experiencing severe drought conditions with rivers in these areas ceasing to flow. WaterNSW is implementing drought management plans in these valleys to manage what water remains in the system to meet critical human needs,” the spokesperson said.
While drought conditions continue to impact communities across north-west NSW, flows from recent Queensland rains are providing improved conditions for communities along the Barwon-Darling.
The Moonie, Warrego and Culgoa Rivers will deliver modest flows to the Barwon-Darling for some weeks to come, replenishing towns and landholders as far as Wilcannia, but are unlikely to reach Menindee lakes.
Meanwhile temporary restrictions on A, B and C class water access licences in the Barwon-Darling Unregulated River were announced on 8 March 2018 and remain in place.
The temporary restrictions are intended to safeguard these low flows entering the river, to ensure access to water for downstream towns, domestic and stock uses, as well as licence holders requiring water for permanent plantings.