Going down: Burrendong Dam water level has dropped significantly

NSW drought: Dams drying up due to below average rain


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GOING DOWN: Burrendong Dam has experienced the biggest drop in water level across the region. Photo: FILE

GOING DOWN: Burrendong Dam has experienced the biggest drop in water level across the region. Photo: FILE

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The drought has had a big impact on water levels in the region's dams.

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DAM levels across the Central West are falling, with Burrendong experiencing the biggest decline.

With well below average rainfall, dam levels have dropped significantly during the past 12 months.

WaterNSW data provided to Fairfax Media shows every dam it manages across the region has dropped significantly during the past 12 months.

Burrendong Dam may be one of the largest inland dams in the state, and three times the size of Sydney Harbour, but in the past 12 months its capacity has dropped from 81 per cent to 31 per cent.

This drop is the equivalent of 581 gigalitres (581,000 megalitres) less water than a year ago.

Burrendong Dam is the water source for residents and businesses in Dubbo, Wellington and Narromine. Water restrictions are in place for Narromine.

Carcoar Dam, which supplies water to Blayney, has also had a significant drop in its capacity during the past 12 months – from 91pc full in September last year to 67pc full this month.

Burrendong Dam's capacity has dropped from 81 per cent to 31 per cent in the past 12 months. - WaterNSW

This 24pc decline means there is now nine gigalitres less water available.

While the water levels at Wyangala and Oberon dams have both dropped by 31pc compared with a year ago, from 88pc to 57pc, and 85pc to 54pc respectively.

Water restrictions are in place in Forbes and Parkes which both use water from Wyangala Dam.

Burrinjuck Dam has also dropped – from 59pc capacity to 41pc during the past year, while Windamere has fallen from 49pc to 40pc.

Meanwhile, the Lithgow City Council run Farmers Creek Dam is at 100 pc capacity and a council spokesperson said the dam is supplemented by treated mine water which is pumped in from the Clarence Colliery.

Chifley Dam, run by Bathurst Regional Council, has dropped from 89.8pc to 58.9pc in the past year.

A council spokeswoman said that with recent rainfall in the catchment, the dam level had increased by six per cent in the past few weeks.

“Council will continue to monitor levels closely and encourages residents to be waterwise throughout the year, irrespective of dam level,” she said.

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The water supply in Orange comes from two dams – Suma Park and Spring Creek.

Currently, the water level in the dams is 47.1pc and 81pc respectively, which is down compared to one year ago when it was 75.9pc and 94.2pc.

Orange City Council corporate and community relations manager Nick Redmond said the stormwater harvesting holding dam was at 97pc capacity, with a full capacity of around 220ML.

“It’s currently pumping about 6.5ML a day into Suma Park Dam. Coupled with the Macquarie Pipeline, we’re pumping about 18ML per day into the dam in total,” he said.

“The amount taken out of the dam to service the city’s water supply needs is about 12 ML per day.”

Mr Redmond said council’s modelling showed the city should be able to remain on level two water restrictions for the rest of the year.

“If the water level drops below 50pc the policy is Orange would go to level three water restrictions, however it isn’t likely to happen soon,” he said.

This article first appeared in the Daily Liberal.

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