Water Week

EWN Publishing

Emergency conditions: NSW withholds river-flow to southern states; had it not, it “would not have had any water for any purpose at the start of the season”

Posted by waterweek on 28 September 2007

River levels
The NSW Department of Water and Energy said things were bad, very bad and only “critical water” was available; and there was the risk that event that supplied could fall so low essential services could not be provided.

What the data shows: The rainfall in July and early August 2007 produced some inflows in early August which were now receding to minimum levels. Inflows to Hume and Dartmouth dams were only about 4 000 ML per day. Without further rain these flows will recede to the low levels recorded last year. Under the arrangements agreed to by the Prime Minister and State Premiers earlier in the year, NSW was:

• able to provide water to meet the critical supplies for essential human needs, permanent plantings and essential industries;

• In addition on 28 August 2007 NSW was able to re-credit 25 per cent of water suspended in 2006 and carried over into this year;

Abnormal conditions: Under the normal water sharing rules, most of this water would were available to other States and not to NSW. Effectively the inflows in August were used to offset the water made available to NSW early in the season. As a result of the inflows in August, allocations have increased marginally in other states, but not in NSW. However, without these sharing arrangements NSW would not have had any water for any purpose at the start of the season. The offset has now been almost fully repaid and if there was a significant inflow, the resources available to NSW will increase.

More water – but how? In earlier communications, the Department of Water and Energy stated that reserves for critical human needs would be considered after August 2007. NSW together with VIC, SA and the ACT were now investigating options for water supply and the probabilities of inflows, not only for the remainder of 2007/2008, but also for 2008/2009.

Critical Water: As a result of the recredit of 25 per cent of suspended 2006 account water, after September critical water will only be available to some identied industries. All outstanding applications for critical water for September 2007 will be finalised as soon as possible. Any critical water made available to date was in addition to the re-credited water. However, when the situation improves signicantly, critical water will be debited from the total water resource available. This decision will be discussed with the advisory group prior to implementation”.

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