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Cyclone Christine helps Gascoyne River flow

Lucie Bell and Olivia Garnett, Tuesday January 7, 2014 - 17:05 EDT
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Carnarvon's Nine Mile Bridge could see a flow of less than a metre on Thursday - ABC

Rainfall from ex-Tropical Cyclone Christine has made its way to the parched Gascoyne River.

As the storm system moved south last week, the upper Gascoyne and Lyons River catchments both received falls.

In the 24-hours to December 31st 2013, the Lyons River upper catchment received between 40-70mm and the Gascoyne catchment received 50-90mm.

The Department of Water's Midwest and Gascoyne Manager, Adam Maskew, says a small river is now slowly making its way toward Carnarvon.

"A peak of 2.8m was recorded at Yinetharra on New Years Day. Little rivers like this one only travel between 1 and 1.5km per hour, " he said.

"It's hard to predict the actual timing of arrival in Carnarvon but at this stage we're expecting it to arrive at Nine Mile Bridge sometime on Thursday."

The gauging station at Fishy Pool, 100km from Carnarvon, recorded a peak of one metre earlier this week and the department expects less than that when the flow reaches Carnarvon.

While it's certainly a long way from the amount needed to revive the horticultural region's water woes, Mr Maskew says it's still good news.

"Certainly it's a good thing for the river channel. What it does is wet up the bed of the system and it will respond more readily to future rainfall events."

One of the major problems for local growers has been the salinity levels in available water. Mr Maskew says this latest flow falls within expected salinity levels

"We have a metre on our Pells Island gauging station and that's steadied at about 300-500 parts per million total dissolved salts over the flow."

The river flow can't come soon enough for fruit growers in the region who've been facing water rations since November.

Dom Condo is a mango and table grape grower in Carnarvon, he's also the Chair of the Gascoyne Water Cooperative.

He says a flow, however small, will take the pressure off growers.

“It’s certainly good news, it’s an exciting time.

“I think the growers will be able to plan for their crops for this coming year.�

Growers have been on alternate watering since mid-November but Mr Condo is confident they’ll be able return to daily watering soon.  

“We’ll have to meet with the Department of Water and the Water Corporation and adjust accordingly over the next couple of days.

“Let’s see what this metre of water does, it’ll replenish most of the river.�

Mr Condo and the rest of the Carnarvon community are looking forward to celebrating when the water turns up later this week.

“Everyone celebrates, everyone’s on their motorbikes in the river and walking and splashing in front of the water.

“It’s just a really magnificent feeling.�

The latest advice on the Gascoyne River flow can be found at the Department of Water's .

With more cyclonic activity predicted for the state's north-west in the coming weeks, many in the region will be hoping for more rain in the catchment.


- ABC

© ABC 2014

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