Water cuts kick in
BURDEKIN irrigators are facing water restrictions for the first time in 50 years.
Lower Burdekin Water Authority and SunWater have set water restrictions after a disappointing wet season, combined with the impacts of El Nino’s hot weather, which has seen the Burdekin face dry times and a dry dam.
The Burdekin Falls Dam is down to 73 per cent full, with Lower Burdekin Water Authority ratepayers to receive notice as early as today advising them of 50 per cent water allocation as it looks to restrict water consumption this year.
The figures are based on a ninemonth water year with the Lower Burdekin Water Authority announcing a cut to excess water to get the region through the next six months until the wet season starts.
SunWater said last week its irrigators will face a 63 per cent water allocation as of July 1, with access to an extra 160,000 megalitres of water carried over from the previous water year.
Burdekin Shire Council residents will not be facing water restrictions at this stage as Lower Burdekin Water Authority executive officer David Sartori said the organisation will be monitoring dam levels over coming months.
“I’m extremely concerned it will be a very serious situation, it’s serious now with the level of restrictions that we’re talking about ... it would be a whole lot more serious if we don’t get a wet season this year,” he said. “If it stays like this, our dam levels are going to be extremely low, and it’ll be diabolic next year but you’re talking about a pretty low probability event with no wet season inflows to the Burdekin Dam for a second year.
“It’s quite a low change however we need to put a plan in place which takes that into consideration. With no water restrictions, you’re probably looking at five to six months ( of water allocations) and that’s why it’s prudent to put restrictions in.
“We’ll be reviewing the announced allocation every month, with the plan to reduce those limitations as early as possible.
SunWater service delivery for irrigation systems manager Colin Bendall said the organisation is liaising with Burdekin boards.
“Wet season inflows into Burdekin Falls Dam during 2014- 15 were well below average, which has seen water levels in the dam steadily fall since February,” he said. “This means the medium priority announced allocation at the start of this water year are lower than for the same time in previous years.
“Announced allocations are made in accordance with water sharing rules set by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines via the Burdekin Basin Resource Operations Plan.”
Burdekin River Irrigators chairman, Mario Barbagallo said SunWater is working with irrigators to maximise allocation availabilities at the start of the water year.