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Published: 19 January 2019   •   Media release

The MDBA is confident the Menindee Lakes have been operated using the best information available, according to the rules, and balancing the needs of local communities, the environment and downstream water users.

The report released by the Australia Institute today, and reported in The Guardian, is a narrow view of operational issues and lacks the knowledge and first-hand experience of those actually involved in operating the Lakes.

The MDBA was not approached for comment by the authors of the report or by The Guardian.

MDBA Executive Director of River Management, Mr Andrew Reynolds, said evaporation is one of the many issues considered by river operators when planning releases from Menindee Lakes.

“The lakes are situated in a semi-arid area and are shallow with a large surface area. In most years they lose the equivalent of one Sydney Harbour of water to evaporation,” Mr Reynolds said.

The total evaporation estimated to have been lost from Menindee Lakes from October 2016 to January 2019 is over 900 GL.

“When under the management of the MDBA, decisions to release water from the Menindee Lakes also take into account important environmental factors such as native fish breeding and movement, along with the needs of the local community.

“Operating the Menindee Lakes system is challenging, and river operators consider all the available information and possible scenarios when making decisions—it’s not just about orders and numbers, we also consider the community and environment,” Mr Reynolds said.

When the Lakes rise above 640 GL, the MDBA can direct water to be released from the Lakes to meet downstream demand. The MDBA refers control to New South Wales when storage drops below 480 GL, as it has been since December 2017.

Under the Basin Plan, reforms are being introduced to increase both the volume and management of flows from the northern Basin to the Menindee Lakes. These changes will improve water availability to the Menindee Lakes in the long-term.

Historically, six governments joined together to agree a path forward, and we are now six years into the 12 year plan. It will take a long time to repair the Basin and the rivers. We need to stay the course.

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