Holiday rainfall ignites hope for state's irrigators

NSW dams, rivers benefit from rain but no increase of allocations for irrigators

Copeton Dam was among the state's catchments to benefit from the Chirstmas-New Year Holiday rainfall.

Copeton Dam was among the state's catchments to benefit from the Chirstmas-New Year Holiday rainfall.


Despite the rainfall, there has been no increase in allocations.


WELCOME rainfall over the Christmas-New Year period has helped improve the state's dam levels but any increased water allocations for irrigators remains unknown.

Keepit Dam in the state's North West received the biggest increase, jumping by more than six per cent to sit at 39.8pc.

Nearby, Copeton Dam (18pc) and Split Rock Dam (11pc) enjoyed similar boosts, while the rain helped Lostock Dam and Toonumbar Dam reach capacity.

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Between December 29 and January 4, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) recorded rainfall of more than 200mm at six of its stations including Comboyne (297mm), Mooral Creek (284mm) and Kindee Bridge on the Hastings River (242mm).

However, it was the BoM's Yarra Mount Seaview station in the state's Mid North Coast which topped the falls, recording a whopping 352mm during the holiday period.

BoM's meteorologist Melody Sturm said the thunderstorms and heavy rain was caused by a trough, which should pass by the end of the week.

"Behind that [trough] we see a bit of a settling of the weather, so it will be more of an easterly pattern and we will see less of a risk of thunderstorms, especially moving into the second half of the week," Ms Sturm said.

Water NSW executive manager of system operations Adrian Langdon said the rain had caused a rise in river flows and dam levels in the state's north, the Hunter and North Coast, while metropolitan storages remain close to full.

"Rain events in late December produced significant streamflow in the Gwydir and Namoi valleys, enabling us to announce supplementary access for customers along those rivers," Mr Langdon said.

"Environmental water releases in the Gwydir Valley and Border Rivers are flowing down to the Barwon River system to help native fish during an important breeding period.

"Together with natural flows, water has now reached Collarenebri and Walgett, and will reach as far as Bourke in mid-January."

Controlled releases for operational and maintenance purposes are scheduled to commence this week from Warragamba dam at a rate of 3,500 ML/day, resulting in negligible downstream impacts.

However, a NSW Department of Primary Industries and Environment spokesperson said no changes to allocations could be made until river flows improve.

"While we are currently experiencing good rainfall in some areas of the state, until that rainfall translates to river flow and is captured in storages, it cannot be allocated," the spokesperson said.

"The department will continue to monitor river flow and storages and make changes to allocations if and when appropriate.

"The department publishes a water allocation statement for all major storages at least once a month that explain how water behind the dams has been allocated.

"Water users are encouraged to consult these statements to assess the situation at individual river system."

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