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Water Minister Melinda Pavey warns dams must be full for the NSW drought to have ended

By Joanna Woodburn, Wednesday May 20, 2020 - 11:18 EST
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Burrendong Dam at Wellington in NSW has started recovering following recent rain. - ABC

The New South Wales Water Minister Melinda Pavey is warning there has not been a significant improvement in regional water security, despite the rain.

Parts of the state have received heavy falls so far in 2020 which have helped pull many areas out of drought.

Figures from the Department of Primary Industries show sections of NSW's far south-west, Riverina, Central West, Sydney basin and North Coast are no longer in drought.

But a swathe of the far west, around Broken Hill, and south-east are still classified as in intense drought.

"It's not improved near enough," Ms Pavey said.

"We've had a lot of improvement in the far west of the state.

" after two years of dry, but through the centre of NSW we need to fill those dams up."

Not all dams benefitted

One of the hardest hit storages was Burrendong Dam near Wellington, which was almost empty a few months ago.

Heavy rain and inflows have seen its capacity rise to more than 20 per cent.

Lake Keepit at Gunnedah, in the north west, has also increased to around 14 per cent after being very low.

But .

Wyangala Dam near Cowra, in the Central West, is still hovering at 15 per cent because it has not received as many inflows.

"I don't think they'll be past the worst until those dams are again replenished and full," Ms Pavey said.

"For many of those dams they were full in 2016 and it just goes to show the severity of this event."

The rising level of the state's dams has meant some irrigators are getting access to their general security water licences.

Those in the Macquarie-Cudgegong will be able to access 30 per cent of their water.

Irrigators in the Gwydir Valley, in the far north, are getting 1.9 per cent of their general security, Murrumbidgee users are receiving five per cent and users on the Murray will receive three per cent.


© ABC 2020

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