DARTMOUTH Dam is expected to remain full this winter despite record demand from irrigators and the extreme weather.
NSW Water, which operates major dams in regional NSW, is operating at full capacity with almost 22,000 megalitres a day being released from Hume Dam.
It is at 75 per cent capacity, but the larger, upstream Lake Dartmouth is close to full.
Murray-Darling basin Murray River director David Dreverman said yesterday that despite “pulsed” releases from next week, he expected the huge storage to be full again this winter.
“Even if it remains as dry as it has been in the past week, we would expect Dartmouth to go into the winter close to full,” he said.
“Then pulsed releases have more to do with the health of the river.
“Working with scientists, we have found pulsed releases better replicate natural flows.
“It means the rivers are healthier, the biofilm — the bottom of the food chain — responds better.
“They tell us the rivers are healthier, fishermen say platypus numbers are up.
“Irrigators, too, say it is better because large flows over a period of time tend to clog pumps.”
State Water’s delivery manager Adrian Langdon said more favourable seasonable conditions for the irrigation industry, coupled with heatwave conditions and environmental deliveries, had driven demand beyond the 2001-02 record level.
“Demand for water was at a near-record level this season and now the hot weather has intensified that demand,” he said.
Mr Langdon said it was important in such hot weather that customers stuck to using the amount of water they ordered.
State Water is conducting aerial surveillance to monitor the regulated river systems.