Deniliquin Pastoral Times
ON THE RISE
The Edward River continues to rise, with a number of recreational areas now inundated by fastmoving flood waters.
The McLean Beach boat ramp is completely underwater, and much of it’s sand is no longer visible.
The only tell-tale sign of a swimming area at the beach is the tops of poles sticking out from the top of the water . . . but they may soon disappear altogether.
Parts of the Deniliquin Island Sanctuary are also inundated, as is Willoughby’s Beach in the Deniliquin Regional park.
And those who live along the river system are cautiously watching the rising waters.
Cathy French, who lives near Lawson Syphons, said she and her family are monitoring the levels daily.
They have already lost one large tree and had to move their camping gear from their private camp, and Ms French fears erosion of their banks caused by the 2016 floods could worsen again if the river continues to rise at the same rate or quicker.
‘‘The river has come up quite quickly, with our access road now inundated,’’ she said.
‘‘The website I’m checking is saying the Edward River is steady, but it is not steady.
‘‘In the 2016 floods a massive red gum was pushed out of place and if it falls now, the backyard of our smaller home on the property will be lost.
‘‘The bank has already eroded back to the fence line after 2016 — we could easily fit a car and trailer in to do sandbagging before then — because when the tree moved it just ripped the bank away.
‘‘It’s the only thing stabilising the bank now.’’
A similarly large tree, measuring at least 3m in diameter, has already fallen on the French’s property, the sound of which Ms French could hear at the house about 1km away.
‘‘When the river is at a normal height that tree sits on a sandbank that we use for fishing. It was one of two there.’’
The increased river heights are caused by the release of water from the Hume Dam, which is still almost 97 per cent full despite releases continuing for almost two weeks.
The Murray Darling Basin Authority said releases would continue to create ‘‘air space’’ in the dam, but Murray Valley irrigators say an increase in general security water allocations could ease pressure on the dam while supporting food and fibre production.
Yet, last week’s general security allocation announcement only offered farmers 44 per cent of entitlement.
In 2016, releases from the dam were left until too late and the wall of water that eventually made its way through the Murray system and its tributaries resulted in the
Edward River at Deniliquin peaking at 8.62m.
Minor flood level at Deniliquin is 4.6m, moderate is 7.2m and major is 9.2m.
‘‘It must be heartbreaking for the farmers to see all this water just flowing past them,’’ Ms French said.
‘‘With the Hume still so high, the snow still yet to melt and more rain predicted, it is a bit of a concern.
‘‘Both our houses are elevelated on stilts, but in 2016 we had about a foot of water over our access road and the sheds were flooded.’’
The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a wetter than normal spring, which could see more water flowing into the dam in coming months.
On Saturday, the BoM recorded the river height at Corowa fell below the minor flood level (4.6m) for the first time since releases began, and that Tocumwal was at 5.17m.
At this stage, there are no formal flood alerts from the Deniliquin region.
SES acting southern zone commander Craig McIntyre said he does not expect the Edward River to rise above minor flood level at this stage.
The Edward River is rising by between 3mm and 5mm every few hours according to the BoM’s live river data, which put the river’s height at 3.04m at 6am on Thursday and 3.65m at 6am yesterday. By midday yesterday is had risen again to 3.68m.