WaterNSW has delayed a proposed water transfer from Windamere Dam to Burrendong Dam, via the Cudgegong River, until January 2019 due to drought.
Below average rainfall and corresponding extremely low inflows have beset dams across many regions of New South Wales, with Burrendong sitting at 20 per cent of capacity and Windamere 39 per cent.
Inflows to Burrendong Dam since August 2017 total about 38GL — only 26 per cent of the previous record low inflow of about 143GL for the 15 months ending in October — confirming that the Macquarie system has entered a new drought-of-record.
Initially, the transfer was scheduled to occur in November 2018, but a government decision to temporarily quarantine 30 per cent of carryover water and plans to introduce more stringent conditions on water ordering by customers have reduced demand forecasts.
Windamere and Burrendong storages provide water security for customers in the Macquarie valley. Transfers occur from Windamere to Burrendong when the storage levels drop to ensure reliability of supply to all customers.
Any transfer date would be reviewed in the event of significant rain events generating substantive inflows into Burrendong, according to WaterNSW Executive Manager System Operation, Adrian Langdon.
“The bulk water transfer is provided for under the terms of the Macquarie-Cudgegong water sharing plan in the event of prolonged dry conditions placing water security in the Macquarie valley under pressure,” Mr Langdon said.
“Should the weather take a turn for the better and deliver substantial inflows into Burrendong, there is every likelihood that the transfer date will be pushed further into the future once more.
“WaterNSW is talking to water users, including Cudgegong Valley Water Security Committee and Midwest Regional Council, to ensure they are aware of the timing of the bulk water transfer and what safeguards are in place to ensure water security for Windamere users is provided for.”
In October 2018, the NSW Government announced that WaterNSW will conduct a study into construction of a new regulating storage between Narromine and Warren and report its findings to government.
The assessment of a new mid-Macquarie storage site is part of wider investigations into potential options for improving the security, reliability and delivery efficiency of water in the Macquarie Valley, including infrastructure and non-infrastructure measures.