Menindee Lakes’ releases on hold to protect property

Menindee Lakes’ releases on hold to protect property

28 January 2022

WaterNSW will not proceed with a planned increase to water releases from Menindee lakes after on-ground monitoring raised concerns of an increased risk of localised impacts.

Releases from the lakes – which currently sits at ~92% of capacity - were to increase from 18 gigalitres per day (GL/day) this week following public meetings in Pooncarie and Menindee last week.

While the intention of the proposed increase was to enhance downstream environmental benefits, the recommendation from NSW State Emergency Service (SES) crews monitoring the town’s levee network was that further increases would risk inundating properties in the town. As a result, releases will be held at 18 GL/day.

WaterNSW Executive Manager System Operations, Adrian Langdon, said safeguarding local properties must take priority.

“The community supports the current over-bank flows in the Lower Darling to water the floodplain for the first time in a decade,” he said. “However, this can only occur at a level which does not result in the inundation of properties in and around Menindee, and we made that clear to the community when we spoke last week.”

With the lakes’ total storage at almost 92% of capacity and inflows reaching a rate of 27 gigalitres per day (GL/day), WaterNSW modelling indicates that the Barwon-Darling River flow into the lakes will peak towards the end of February.

WaterNSW was joined by multiple government agencies at public information sessions last week to discuss the strategy to manage the ongoing large volumes arriving in the lakes from the northern basin.

Early releases over the summer have already reduced the storage to create at least 400 gigalitres of available space to enable the capture inflows, the peak of which is expected to pass through Wilcannia in early February on its way down the Darling River.

It is anticipated that by the time the current inflows have receded the lakes will have received approximately 4,500 gigalitres (GL) in the past 12 months. The lakes’ total potential storage volume is 2000 GL. While these inflows are significant, they are only a small portion of 12,500 GL the lakes received during 2010-12.

To access WaterNSW information on river heights and flow data visit: WaterInsights

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