The Menindee lakes system could reach capacity for the first time in a decade as multiple flow surges along the Barwon-Darling network continue to deliver the best inflows since 2016.
Ongoing rainfall over the past six months has generated a series of flow events, lifting the lakes’ total storage to 68 per cent of capacity at approximately 1200 gigalitres.
Recent rain has generated additional inflows with around 600GL expected to make its way into the lakes over August and September, more than the water in the Sydney Harbour.
Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said these latest estimates do not include further large flows in the upper reaches of the Border Rivers system, which will add substantially to total inflow projections, and potentially fill the Menindee lakes system for the first time since 2011-12.
“This is extraordinarily good news for the iconic Menindee lakes and surrounding communities, and a welcome continuation of the very favourable water security enjoyed by communities along the Barwon-Darling for many months,” Mrs Pavey said.
“Lake Menindee, in and of itself is an important environmental and cultural asset, and has not received water since 2016. The Menindee community, including the traditional owners, are celebrating the long-awaited arrival of water.
“We know how fast things can turn around, so we need to keep the water in the lakes for as long as possible to ensure the environment and communities have more storage in the event that we return to drought.”
As well as inflows from the Border Rivers, the substantial Barwon-Darling flows are also being driven by tributaries from the Namoi system, as well as the Gwydir and Macquarie systems.
“These continual flows along the Barwon-Darling are not restricted to that river system but are also being generated by wet conditions elsewhere across the northern basin,” Mrs Pavey said.
“Pindari Dam in the Border Rivers and, Chaffey Dam (Peel River) continue to spill, and Keepit Dam (Namoi River) is also nearing capacity, while Copeton Dam (Gwydir River) is approaching 70 per cent of capacity, with inflows continuing to rise. Wyangala Dam is at 95 per cent.
“With the drought never far from our minds, the challenge for water authorities now is to prolong the availability of water and maximise the benefit of this most favourable of seasons, for the years to come.”
Images available here.