Extra water releases from Menindee Lakes ceased this week, with the flow of water now reduced to 500 megalitres per day, underlining the end of the water order made by the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) on behalf of Basin State Governments.
During the past five weeks, 60 gigalitres of water from the lakes had been called on to support the Murray system in response to drier than expected conditions throughout the Southern Basin.
Planning is now under way to identify when more water may need to be drawn from Menindee Lakes by the MDBA.
This will depend on the amount of rainfall and subsequent flows which occur, the authority said.
“We’ve worked closely with the local community, First Nations groups and local landholders in the lead up to and during the release of this water and modified the flow rate to maximise the environmental benefits as best we can for the Darling downstream of Menindee,” MDBA executive director of River Management, Andrew Reynolds said.
“We will continue to consult in partnership with WaterNSW, to ensure we take on board feedback about how we draw on water from the lakes to ensure it benefits the local community as well as water users in the downstream states.
“Inflows to the Menindee Lakes from the northern floods back in March have already exceeded expectations. Right now, in late-June, the lakes are at 62 per cent capacity and holding about 1080 gigalitres, or more than two Sydney Harbours.”
In accordance with the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement, the MDBA accesses water from the Menindee Lakes for use in the River Murray system on behalf of Basin states once the volume of water in the lakes rises above 640 gigalitres and until it falls below 480 gigalitres.
“As inflows continue to enter the lakes from the Darling River, the two upper lakes, Lake Wetherell and Lake Pamamaroo, are planned to be full at the end of the inflow event,” Mr Reynolds said.
“This has been the most significant inflow to the lakes in five years, connecting the north and south with healthy flows, so it’s vital this water is managed carefully.”
For more information about the Menindee Lakes, visit: www.mdba.gov.au/river-information/running-river-murray/menindee-lakes.