Lake Hume capacity rises to 82 per cent amid farmers fears of another big flood

FEARS are growing of a second successive significant spring flood in the Murray River following heavy rainfall in recent weeks.

Earlier forecasts of dryer conditions compared to the record rainfall experienced in winter and spring last year have proven wide of the mark in a major concern for landholders below Lake Hume.

The region’s major water storage has filled to 82 per cent capacity in recent days with the figure identical to this time last year.

Richard Sargood

Richard Sargood

Murray River Action Group chairman Richard Sargood said farmers were nervous following high rainfall totals in the Upper Murray and Mitta and Kiewa valleys.

Some areas have already had more than 150mm of rain this month following healthy July totals.

Mr Sargood confirmed Murray Darling Basin Authority representatives attended a MRAG meeting this week and said it would “consider” pre-releases of water from Lake Hume if the storage reached 87 per cent.

“It’s got guts ache written all over it,” he said.

“If they are committing to pre-releasing as they did last year and didn’t do it, we want to see them actually do it this year if conditions dictate that they should.

“We want everyone to be on the ball because last year we reckon they dropped the ball.”

The MDBA came under fire last year, including threats of a class action from farmers, for its handling of releases from Lake Hume.

FLASHBACK: Spring rainfall saturated areas below Lake Hume including Noreuil Park in Albury. Lake Hume has filled to 82 per cent of capacity in recent days.

FLASHBACK: Spring rainfall saturated areas below Lake Hume including Noreuil Park in Albury. Lake Hume has filled to 82 per cent of capacity in recent days.

Mr Sargood said the river at his property between Howlong and Corowa had started to rise in recent days.

A MDBA spokesman said it regularly evaluated the pre-release strategy for Lake Hume in light of current seasonal conditions.

“Under agreed operating rules the MDBA is able to make pre-releases once there is a very high probability that the dam will fill,” he said.

“Filling of the dam this year is not yet guaranteed although recent rainfall has begun to wet up catchments that were previously very dry.

“If wetter conditions continue and Lake Hume is guaranteed to fill then releases to maintain airspace may commence.

“The latest seasonal outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology shows no strong signal to wetter or dryer conditions over coming months.

“Therefore we must rely more heavily on shorter-term forecasts in assessing whether to make pre-releases from the dam.”

Meanwhile, the MDBA has confirmed Andrew Reynolds will be taking on the role of executive director river management from the retiring David Dreverman in the coming weeks.