DARTMOUTH Dam’s chances of spilling for the first time in 17 years remain a possibility.
The tipping point would be a large rain event during spring, which has been predicted to be wetter than normal by the Bureau of Meteorology.
Snow melt has already started with warm temperatures experienced this week but it won’t be enough to send water over the spillway for the first time since 1996.
Dartmouth Dam was yesterday at 98.2 per cent or a metre away from spilling and was discharging about 6500 megalitres daily.
Lake Hume was about 98.9 per cent of capacity and its discharges rose to 20,700 megalitres a day yesterday.
The last time Dartmouth began to spill was on September 30 1996 and the spill lasted until November 11.
Dam manager Peter Liepkalns said the authorities aimed to maintain a buffer of airspace to prevent a spill but could take the level to 61 centimetres below capacity.
Heavy rain rather than snow melt was something authorities fear would trigger a spill.
“We have seen a marginal increase this week from snow melt,” Mr Leipkalns said.
“It will continue for the next eight weeks.
“But it doesn’t come down in one lot.
“For example, at the back of Bogong the snow will still be there until mid-November.
“At the end of the day it doesn’t impact that much on us.”
The bureau predicts the chances of exceeding the median rainfall for spring is more than 60 per cent over most of south-east Australia including the North East.
No major rain event is forecast in the short-term outlook but Mr Leipkalns remains wary after above-average winter rainfall across the region.
“The catchment is just saturated,” he said.
Wangaratta-based long range weather forecaster John Moore is disputing the bureau’s outlook for spring.
“The indicators I am working from point to it being a dry September and October,” Mr Moore said.
A spill would trigger a tourism boom for Dartmouth but could cause floods downstream.
The two lakes between them now hold 6.756 million megalitres.