Efforts turn to water supply as flooding abates
29 November 2022
A collective sigh of relief can almost be heard across our region as the flooding abates and there are reductions in the amount of water flowing across the landscape and through the Mirrool Creek. Moreover forecasts, in the short term at least, show minimal likelihood of major rain events. Whilst there are still very challenging situations for many landholders, the situation is now improving with the decreasing amount of water coming into the system.
Murrumbidgee Irrigation (MI) CEO, Brett Jones acknowledged the success of flood management efforts, “Whilst the last few weeks have been extremely trying for many, we are pleased that the event has not resulted in major and widespread damage.
MI has worked in close collaboration with relevant authorities and emergency services and supported their efforts to keep floodwater moving through the system in a managed way. Whilst not designed to be a drainage system, the MI infrastructure has been used to good effect to transfer water through the system.
Flooding across varied landscapes from Temora where the Mirrool Creek starts through to the flood plains of Hay and beyond, is highly complex and not always predictable. By working with authorities who understand their responsibilities and have sound decision making processes is vital.”
“I am especially appreciative of the approach of the Councils of Griffith, Narrandera and Leeton with whom we have worked very closely.” said Mr Jones.
Flows down the Mirrool Creek have dropped substantially as have river levels at Narrandera. Therefore, the focus now is on reducing the Barren Box storage from its current 75GL to 70GL in a way that minimises the impact on downstream stakeholders, while still maintaining some airspace as a buffer in the event of additional rain events.
However, the dry weather also means that crops are requiring water with MI’s customer orders picking up at a time when the MI team has been preoccupied with works to manage the floods. Proactive maintenance that would normally have been completed over recent weeks has had to be put on hold. So with flooding abating, the MI team is now able to switch its focus to the work it needs to do to prepare the system for higher customer deliveries.
MI is now in recovery mode and bringing our integrated supply system back to full capacity, focusing on any immediate access constraints. Getting the system fit for purpose for the busy summer water delivery season is our priority, especially in the light of forecast warm and dry weather in the lead up to Christmas.
Mr Jones explained, “Flood management rightly took precedence, but it has meant that many of our machines and resources that would normally have been doing preparatory work, to enable flows after the Winter Works program, have been diverted. We anticipate that as we get back to some sort of normality after the floods there may be a period where our system is pinched, and we will experience some constraint issues. In this case, we are asking customers to work with us.”
Mr Jones also lauded the efforts of the MI team, “Many of our MI crews have worked very long days, and sometimes nights, consecutively for several days to ensure we played our role in managing the floods. I feel sure that without their efforts, alongside local authorities and emergency services, there would have been much more damage to community infrastructure, homes and farms.”