Menindee lakes releases must factor in local impacts

Menindee lakes releases must factor in local impacts

22 December 2021

Forecast estimates from large flows in the Namoi valley, Border Rivers and Southern Queensland tributaries indicate that significant inflows totaling 1800-2200 gigalitres will flow into Menindee lakes from December until February.

Releases from the lakes were increased to 18 gigalitres per day on Monday (20 December) but further increases will not take place without a full understanding of local impacts.

A multi-agency flood management committee has been convened as required by the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement, and WaterNSW will join the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) and other agencies at community information sessions in the region on 18-19 January at Pooncarie and Menindee respectively.

WaterNSW has been making releases from the lakes to create capacity to capture inflows, and in doing so reduce the peak of the flooding anticipated in Menindee.

WaterNSW Executive Manager System Operations, Adrian Langdon, said understanding the local impacts of increased releases from the lakes is a critical component of managing the storage.

“The volume we are expecting during summer could be the equivalent of the entire volume of the lakes, but it will arrive gradually and over the space of weeks,” he said. “The more capacity we have in the lakes to capture these inflows, the more we will lessen extent of the flood impact.

“We have been working closely with SES to prepare for the arrival of the inflows and will use this period to ensure we have the best understanding of local impacts before we proceed to the next level.”

NSW SES Chief Superintendent, David Monk, said the service continues to work closely with WaterNSW and the Bureau of Meteorology to enable all agencies to plan accordingly to protect and advise the community.

“With that information, we can better prepare and work with property owners and communities so they have a better understanding of what is likely to happen and assist them to prepare,” Mr Monk said.

“NSW SES is deploying resources ahead of floodwaters and has strategically positioned assets along the river to enable us to continue to move resources and respond as the floodwater arrives,” he said.

With the lakes total storage volume at 97.8% of capacity, the increased releases are intended to achieve 95% capacity by the end of December. At 95% the lakes will have capacity to capture approximately 400 GL of the coming inflows, which will take the storage back into the flood surcharge zone.

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96.7
Tuesday 18 January
-0.1
2,497,329 ML
2,581,850 ML
9,342 ML
1,335 ML
-3,171 ML
Tuesday 18 January