With severe drought conditions impacting several regions and water storages in New South Wales, WaterNSW will begin a bulk water transfer from Split Rock Dam to Keepit Dam between October and December 2018.

The bulk water transfer is necessary to meet customer water demand in the Lower Namoi Valley downstream of Keepit Dam.

Under the scheduled release, a maximum of 34,900 megalitres will be transferred from Split Rock Dam to Keepit Dam. Scheduled releases will range from 100 ML/day to 1,900 ML/day with peak releases occurring from 25-28 October 2018.

Split Rock Dam is currently at 13.4 per cent of capacity and Keepit Dam is 10.6 per cent.

Weather conditions will be closely monitored throughout the process to ensure that any changes in demand due to rainfall are factored into future releases during the bulk water transfer.

“Water in both Split Rock and Keepit dams has been allocated for both Upper Namoi users and the Lower Namoi users,” said Adrian Langdon, WaterNSW Executive Manager System Operation and Asset Maintenance.

“The severe drought conditions across NSW have impacted on all water storages, including Split Rock and Keepit dams. To satisfy the anticipated demand this summer, we have to transfer water from Split Rock Dam to Keepit Dam to fill those orders.”

WaterNSW estimates that even with the additional water, Keepit Dam could fall to 2 per cent of capacity by the year’s end, without receiving significant inflows. Split Rock would hold less than 5 per cent by the end of December under the same minimal inflow scenario.

A lack of rainfall and a corresponding near absence of inflows into dam storages over the past year has resulted in the Namoi valley being subject to tough drought management measures since April.

In the Lower Namoi, it is possible that some stock and domestic customers and irrigators will not receive any more water while conditions persist, and remaining customers will be severely restricted in what water can be extracted.

Without further inflows, releases from Keepit will likely cease in December, leaving water users reliant on groundwater supplies where available.

Without significant inflows it is likely that more hard decisions will be required in the months ahead to ensure dwindling resources are allocated fairly, and with priority given to critical human needs, according to WaterNSW Executive Manager Systems Operations, Adrian Langdon.

“WaterNSW has been working closely with water users in the Upper and Lower Namoi to manage supply, and our management plan and the co-operation from customers has enabled us to extend supply under arguably the state’s most severe drought conditions,” Mr Langdon said.

“With government, and in collaboration with the critical water advisory panel, we are implementing strategies to extend vital supply as long as possible and sharing the hardship as fairly as we can in line with water sharing plan rules until the drought breaks.

“We will continue to monitor water resources and adapt strategies as required, and if necessary investigate potential additional measures and actions to ensure water supplies for critical needs.”

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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