Greens question continued releases from Menindee Lakes System

MEDIA RELEASE – 29 December 2014

The Greens NSW water spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham has written to Minister for Water, Kevin Humphries about the continued release of water from the Menindee Lakes System with Broken Hill facing severe water shortages.  Mr Buckingham also called for the de-siltation of the now empty Umberumberka Reservoir near Silverton.

“I’ve written to Minister Humphries asking why around 130 megalitres a day continued to be released from the Menindee Lakes System when Broken Hill is staring down the barrel of severe water shortages?  It would seem prudent to reduce outflows to a minimum now rather than later,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“I understand that unless there are significant inflows, releases from the Menindee Lakes System will be reduced to 40 megalitres by April or May 2015.  I am asking whether this more stringent regime should be implemented sooner rather than later?

“When I visited the far West in mid-December, I went out to the Umberumberka Reservoir near Silverton.  This reservoir is now empty and there seems to be significant build up of silt.  I have asked for clarification from the minister whether there are any plans to remove some of the silt and increase the capacity of the reservoir?  Again it would seem prudent to use this opportunity to improve water security for Broken Hill.

“Long-term, the health of the Darling River needs to be revived by reducing the amount of water taken by upstream irrigation and ensuring the small to medium-sized floods can make it to the Lower Darling.  The Greens released a plan earlier this month that includes the NSW Government buying the Cubbie Station cotton irrigation project and returning the significant amounts of water it diverts and stores back into the Culgoa and Darling Rivers.” he said.

Contact: Max Phillips 0419 444 916


Email to Minister Humphries:

Dear Minister Humphries,

As you would be aware, I have a keen interest in the current state of the Darling River and the communities that live along its length.

I write today concerning two issues:

1) At the moment the release of water from Lake Wetherell and Lake Pamamaroo equate to a flow of approximately130 megalitres per day at Pooncarrie.  Given the importance of securing Broken Hill’s water supply, I would like consideration given to drastically reducing the outflow from the Menindee Lakes System (MLS) to the minimum needed for Pooncarie.  The Murray River currently has good flows, so the remaining water in the MLS should be conserved for use by Broken Hill and those on the Lower Darling River, rather than supplementing flows to South Australia. I note that the NSW Office of Water forecasts reducing the flow to 40 megalitres per day in April 2015 if there are no significant inflows into the MLS. Given the concern over Broken Hill’s water supply, it would seem pertinent to reduce the flows now, rather than wait another four months.

2) I recently visited Umberumberka Reservoir near Silverton and it is completely empty.  Aerial photographs indicate a significant level of siltation in the reservoir and it would seem like a good time to remove some of the silt and increase the capacity of the reservoir.  Could you please inform the community whether such de-siltation plans are in place, or, if not, consider directing Essential Water to conduct a silt removal program?

I look forward to your response and wish you a Happy New Year.


Jeremy Buckingham MLC

Greens NSW Water Spokesperson

One comment

  • CMC (Radford Earth Moving) earth moving company said years ago it could de-silt the dam for free as long as it got to have the silt. There is a possibility that it has some gold deposits in it which would help fund the de-siltation process and the dam would increase it’s capacity back to normal volumes. The council declined the offer! It sounds spiteful to decline such an offer.


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