At last, water flows from Menindee Lakes

Menindee-Lakes-in-NSW-from-16,000ft---Tim-J-Heegan---Flickr

Landholders near Broken Hill say its great news water from the Menindee Lakes system will flow into the Great Darling Anabranch.

The release, which began last Friday, will see water directed into the Anabranch for the first time since 2017.

Menindee resident and grape grower, Graeme McCrabb, said the decision to go ahead with the operation at a recent meeting was backed by all stakeholders.

“This was one of the few times I’ve seen absolute support for a decision around water,” he said.

“It was unanimous and a pretty straightforward decision.”

The meeting brought together community members and representatives from several bodies such as NSW’s Department of Primary Industries, WaterNSW and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

WaterNSW will oversee the direction as part of operations to manage the lake system’s storage levels, which is currently above capacity.

About 1000 megalitres (ML) per day will flow out of Cawndilla outlet, up from the initial 250ML rate.

WaterNSW executive manager, Adrian Langdon, said the large volume of water already in the lakes and the ongoing inflows presented a timely watering opportunity for the Darling Anabranch.

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“By making the operational decision to direct flows into the Darling Anabranch, WaterNSW is making good use of the abundant water to replenish the riverine environment of the last major waterway in the state yet to recover from drought,” he said.

The operation will eventually incorporate water held by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office.

The supplement aims to ensure connectivity with the Murray River and to maximise environmental benefits.

“This efficient utilisation of the Menindee resource will bring tremendous benefit to the ecosystem of the Anabranch, as well as the landholders and communities along its route,” Mr Langdon said.

Paul McPherson, chair of Anabranch Water, welcomed the operation and believes it will be a significant boost for the environment.

“It’s always good thing when there is water in the (Great Darling) Anabranch,” he said.

“We wouldn’t want to go to much longer. The trees along the banks like to get a drink.”

Local fish species are also likely to benefit from having an increased water level.

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Mr McPherson was happy with the planning and management and is keen to see a follow-up.

“It’s looking fairly positive for the Anabranch, and maybe we can get another flow after this one is finished,” he said.

The operation is expected to run into summer, with stakeholders fully behind the cause.

Mr McCrabb praised the swift action to start the flow after the “no brainer” decision. “I have to give the authorities credit for the short space of time that they had to get this together and get it happening,” he said.

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