Storms see water flowing into Wyangala, Burrendong dams

An aerial view over Wyangala Dam shows how low the water line is after one of the worst droughts the region has endured. Photo: RICK MIDDLETON
An aerial view over Wyangala Dam shows how low the water line is after one of the worst droughts the region has endured. Photo: RICK MIDDLETON

Recent storms and rain events across the Central West have generated small but welcome inflows into the region's two major supply dams, with inflows continuing.

Water NSW reports that Burrendong Dam, on the Macquarie River, now sits at 3.3 per cent of capacity, up from 1.6 per cent just days ago, after receiving 21,000 megalitres (ML) of inflows since 10 February.

Wyangala Dam, on the Lachlan River is at 13 per cent, having risen from 8.4 per cent on the back of inflows totalling 60,000ML since 10 February.

WaterNSW is monitoring the flows to evaluate the prospect of impacts on a range of drought contingency measures, either already in place, or in the advanced planning phase.

Inflows continue into both storages, with recent heavy falls near Orange expected to sustain flows into Burrendong in coming days, with flows also recorded in the Macquarie, Cudgegong and Turon Rivers.

Wyangala's principal source of inflows has been the Abercrombie River, supported by smaller volumes down the Lachlan.

Strong tributary flows downstream of both dams have also been recorded and have been used to provide for downstream requirements including the critical needs of landholders, thereby easing supply pressure on the dams.

A second large flow down the Talbragar River in recent days could supply an additional 20,000ML into the Macquarie at Dubbo, while several flow events down the Belubula River will be captured at Lake Cargelligo, increasing that storage from 50% to more than 60% potentially.

WaterNSW executive manager for system operations, Adrian Langdon, said the modest inflows were nonetheless a welcome addition to both storages.

"In neither valley are we seeing storage increases that are game-changers, but these inflows - especially in the Macquarie valley - do provide some much-needed operational breathing space for the provision of town supply and critical needs," he said.

"The fact that the catchments are now wet enough to generate run-off also bodes well for follow up rain.

"These inflows will continue over the coming days and once the full volume has been calculated WaterNSW will be better placed to see what it means for security of supply for local communities and what impact is has on the timing of our drought contingency measures."