REGULAR visitors have condemned the low river levels downstream of Yarrawonga Weir as dangerous, disappointing and costing tourism dollars.
But those who operate the weir and rely on the water system for irrigation defend the present situation.
Yarrawonga Weir is more than 93 per cent full but reduced demand means the present daily releases are about 8000 megalitres, less than last summer.
Mieke Williams, of Melton, said this section of the Murray River was as low as she’d seen it in 19 years of annual holidays.
“It’s too much danger to take your boat in there,” she said. “Too many logs sticking up, it’s not covered by the water. When the river’s down low, it really makes it hard to want to come back here, considering it’s a tourist town.
“It’s not good for Yarrawonga’s tourism.”
People who spoke to The Border Mail felt the downstream area known as The Common was less choppy and more family-friendly than Lake Mulwala.
One holiday maker said he spent $2800 on fuel last summer, all locally, but only $200 to date this season because he couldn’t take his boat out.
Mellissa Tanner, also from Melton, said her family went to Bundalong in preference last week because they couldn’t use their boat at their usual holiday spot.
“It’s frustrating, we’ve been coming here for all these years and there’s been a drought and then all of a sudden we’ve had this rain and they’re not letting any water through,” she said.
“Do they want the tourism or don’t they?”
Murray Irrigation supplies water to more than 2200 NSW irrigation farms from its system running off Lake Mulwala and depends on effective river management.
Corporate affairs executive manager Perin Davey said river operators had a challenge to ensure they kept the rivers running.
“While at the same time keeping enough water in the system to meet irrigation, town and industry needs through the whole season,” she said. “If the river operators make a mistake and let too much water out too early in the season, there is a risk there won’t be enough to fulfil water allocations to the end of the season.”
As reported, Murray Darling Basin Authority head of river management David Dreverman said the authority could only release flows to meet orders placed by entitlement holders.
“We understand that people enjoy and benefit from recreation and tourism along the river,” he said. “But no matter what time of year it is … if (entitlement holders) don’t order the water, we cannot release it.”
Goulburn-Murray Water said it endorsed Mr Dreverman’s statements.