Lakes’ releases minimal as Darling flows dwindle

Lakes’ releases minimal as Darling flows dwindle

11 January 2018

WaterNSW is working with Lower Darling landholders to maintain supply to Broken Hill while extending supply to communities downstream of Menindee lakes for as long as possible.

WaterNSW received NSW Government agreement in December 2017 to enact a more flexible release regime from the lakes that will maximise supply to both the Lower Darling and Broken Hill.

This Lower Darling Annual Operations Plan was developed by WaterNSW to ensure critical human water needs are met while maintaining environmental objectives in the Lower Darling under the worst-case scenario.

The Menindee lakes have fallen to 23.4% of total capacity as relentless dry conditions persist, Darling River flows dwindle and short term weather forecasts offer no respite.

As per the operations plan, water has been retained in the upper lakes, with Pamamaroo at 86% of capacity and Wetherell at 34%, while releases from Lake Menindee ceased on 15 November 2017 after that storage was exhausted.

Releases into the Lower Darling are currently occurring at ~200 megalitres per day (ML/day), with flows at Burtundy of 50ML/day. The operations plan will endeavour to maintain at least 20ML/day at Burtundy under drought conditions over summer and beyond.

WaterNSW is in constant contact with the key Lower Darling advisory group of landholders to ensure that a minimal flow is maintained without exceeding the agreed target flow.

Under the worst case scenario this regime will provide for both the Lower Darling and Broken Hill until at least December this year in the absence of significant inflows.

The Darling River has ceased to flow at Walgett in the upper reaches of the system, is low but holding steady at Bourke (60ML/day) and Brewarrina (20ML/day) and falling at Louth (70ML/day) and Tilpa (90ML/day).

Ensuring water quality and maintaining acceptable salinity levels are also integral components of the operations plan. Water quality in Lake Wetherell will be the key to alternating supply from Weir 32 to Copi Hollow for supply to Broken Hill during drought conditions.

Download a full copy of the drought operations plan (PDF, 1441.02 KB).

Contact: Tony Webber

Phone: 0428 613 478


Thursday 25 April
1,437,192 ML
2,581,850 ML
9,952 ML
1,422 ML
-10,664 ML
Thursday 25 April