Boats speeding on the swollen Darling River at Menindee have become an issue as flood waters continue to raise river heights and often hide submerged trees.
On the Labor Weekend, boats could be seen speeding on the Darling, creating large wakes, wetting people’s campsites.
The water level in the Darling River at Menindee is now at the top of the old riverbank, with submerged trees, plants and fallen logs hidden by the floodwater.
The water at Block Dam has gone from a pre-flood level of about one metre to over 10 metres now.
While the NSW Fisheries is keeping an eye on bag limits and sizes, the safety and surveillance of the Menindee waterways are the responsibility of the Barrier Police District.
Police Officer in Charge at Menindee, Detective Sergeant Matt McCarthy, said, “We want to see everybody having a good time but they need to remember to be safe.”
He added that the Darling River is flooded and can hide hidden dangers such as submerged trees.
Det Sgt McCarthy said that while everyone does not have to wear a lifejacket, in the current conditions, it’s advisable.
NSW Water Safety site says children under 12 must always wear lifejackets, as should people on boats who are alone or boating at night.
According to the same site, seven out of 10 people who drown are not wearing a life jacket.
Officer McCarthy said people needed to be aware of the rules regarding boating on the river.
Rules apply to wake sizes (the waves caused by passing boats), and boats should be controlled not to cause further damage to the riverbanks, creating a danger to other boats, or an “annoyance” to other people.
Fines for non-commercial boaters failing to follow river rules range from $250 to $500.
Submerged trees and other dangers
In recent years, with low water flows, a row of trees has grown in the waterbed at Block Dam above the one metre deep level.
These trees are young and some are only around seven to eight metres high.
At Block Dam, some of the tops of the trees can be seen but some are fully submerged.
These create a boating hazard to small craft on the river.
The corner where the river from Block Dam meets the water at Main Weir also has numerous submerged snags.
Again, the water is high and covers the usual fishing spots.
Trees have also grown on the eastern side downstream of the Main weir and on the western side, trees and bushes are submerged so boating in this area should also be carried out with caution.