Releases from Menindee Lakes to ease over autumn

24 February 2017

WaterNSW is starting to reduce the rate that water is released from the Menindee Lakes system this week, as orders from the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) begin to ease.

MDBA head of river operations, David Dreverman, said the MDBA was dropping orders from the current 4000 megalitres per day (ML/day) to 3250 ML/day, starting on Friday 24 February.

"Demand for water from entitlement holders in the River Murray has started to fall, and as a result we need to draw less water from the Menindee Lakes storage," Mr Dreverman said.

"We currently expect our orders to be wound back gradually over autumn. This means the amount of water in the lakes is not likely to fall below 600 gigalitres this season, which would leave more than the volume of Sydney Harbour going into winter."

Mr Dreverman said the MDBA directed the release of water shared between basin governments at Menindee Lakes in accordance with longstanding arrangements.

"By using water from Menindee Lakes over summer and autumn, rather than calling on water from Dartmouth Dam, the MDBA has increased the net volume available to water entitlement holders throughout the Murray Valley, this year and into next year. This is because much less water is lost through evaporation at Dartmouth than at Menindee Lakes."

WaterNSW Executive Manager System Operations, Adrian Langdon, said the Menindee Lakes system was managed to supply licensed customers including Essential Water and Lower Darling landholders, as well as contributing to water security in the River Murray system.

"To fulfill the MDBA order for 3250 ML/day, over three days from Friday 24 February we will gradually stop taking water from Lake Wetherell and make releases from Lake Menindee alone," Mr Langdon said.

"It is important that we hold as much water as possible in the Menindee system's top two lakes, where we source Broken Hill town water, to maximise access to water and minimise evaporation losses."

Mr Langdon said safeguards in the water sharing arrangements protect Broken Hill town water supply and Lower Darling reserves, whereby the MDBA cannot place orders for the Murray system once lake volumes fall below 480GL, or about 28% of the lakes' capacity.

WaterNSW and the MDBA continue to work together to analyse demands, lake levels and release rates into the future. For more details about lake levels and releases, subscribe to the MDBA River Murray Weekly Report or visit the WaterNSW website.

For more information, contact the MDBA Media office at media@mdba.gov.au or 02 6279 0141

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