Water agencies to manage flows for sustained water storage in Menindee upper lakes

Dept of Climate Change, Energy, Environment & Water

Joint Media Release with Murray-Darling Basin Authority

Releases from Menindee Lakes will be actively managed this summer in a refined approach from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and Basin states to maintain water in the upper lakes while meeting demands in the River Murray.

The November Basin Officials Committee meeting communique reflects agreement by states that while meeting demand in the River Murray this water year, operators will target an active volume of 195 gigalitres in the upper lakes (Lakes Wetherell, Pamamaroo and Tandure).

MDBA Executive Director of River Management Andrew Reynolds said the refined approach would still see the call for water from Menindee Lakes, while preserving water in the upper lakes for as long as possible.

“In the coming week we expect the return to regulated conditions in the River Murray and will call on water from Menindee Lakes to meet demands,” Mr Reynolds said.

“Our approach this summer is to adjust flows in response to weather, system demands, objectives and forecasts.

“The call will vary to meet demands but with the aim of sustaining water in the upper lakes.

“Operational rules covering water at Menindee remain the same and if later in the season the Lakes fall below 480 GL, the MDBA can no longer call on water and the New South Wales (NSW) Government operates the lakes to reserve water for local supply.”

As part of the revised approach, some water will be released from Lake Cawndilla and down the Great Darling Anabranch, continuing on from the environmental releases that have been made.

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, Dr Simon Banks said operational releases down the Great Darling Anabranch will help preserve water in the upper lakes but also continue to support golden perch to move downstream.

“This result is only possible due to the operation being supported with Commonwealth environmental water,” said Dr Banks.

“This is a ‘win-win’ for the environment and other water users.

“It is great to see these results from the collaborative management of water that supports our environment, industry and the community.”

The actions being taken by the MDBA take account of the advice from the Menindee Lower Darling water quality working group, and the community and will help to maximise water quality outcomes while meeting demands in the system.

The MDBA will continue to work with Basin states, the CEWH and community to monitor and manage the Lakes as we approach hotter and drying conditions.

Consistent with the NSW OCSE recommendations the MDBA will be coordinating further work on reviewing the current operating arrangements of the Menindee system.

New South Wales will be issuing further advice to local communities and landholders over the coming days.

/Public Release. View in full here.