Rivers flow but still dry

Only 4.6 per cent of NSW not in drought

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Before and after photographs of Lake Wetherell after the first flows hit the system two weeks early from rainfall in NSW and Queensland. Photo: WaterNSW

Before and after photographs of Lake Wetherell after the first flows hit the system two weeks early from rainfall in NSW and Queensland. Photo: WaterNSW

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Latest update from WaterNSW

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A patch of green around Sydney, Coffs Harbour and in the Bourke Shire are the only areas of NSW not in drought.

While rain has eased some drought conditions, the big dry is far from over with only 4.6 per cent of the state not in drought and 4.1 per cent recovering, according to the NSW Department Primary Industries combined drought indicator map.

"That piece around Sydney and Coffs Harbour that are out of drought is telling the drought story," NSW Farmers' president James Jackson said.

"We are still a long way from full wet catchments and need significant rain. The coronavirus is on top of the drought is adding to the stress of agriculture."

According to WaterNSW widespread rainfall across NSW has generated only minor inflows into major supply dams but has filled farm dams, increased soil moisture - including in key dam catchments - and set dry rivers and creeks running again.

The Barwon-Darling has reached Menindee Lakes with inflows that could raise its storage capacity from near zero to 15-18 per cent and guarantee a return of regular flow to the lower Darling between Menindee and Wentworth for at least 12 months.

Work underway removing Lower Darling block banks. Photo: WaterNSW

Work underway removing Lower Darling block banks. Photo: WaterNSW

WaterNSW said in a statement that Keepit Dam on the Namoi had received the most noteworthy of the inflows into major dams, rising from a storage capacity of near zero to more than 12pc this year.

Minor stock and domestic releases resumed this week - the first water released from the dam in more than a year. Other major dams experienced storage increases of between two to six per cent.

Large tributary flows downstream of Burrendong Dam on the Macquarie River resulted in customers receiving access to supplementary flows for the first time since 2016 while inflows raised Burrendong from 1.5pc to almost 7pc.

WaterNSW executive manager systems operations, Adrian Langdon, said that while the lack of significant inflows into major dams meant the drought was far from broken, the rains had brought a degree of respite and optimism to regions previously enduring extreme drought conditions.

"The drought is not over by any means, and our focus has not changed from ensuring we continue to supply town water and other critical needs," Mr Langdon said.

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