Chaffey Dam edges closer to a historic high water mark

Chaffey Dam spillway

Chaffey Dam spillway

WATER is lapping at the brim of Chaffey Dam’s morning glory spillway, with 100 per cent capacity potentially just over the horizon.

On Monday afternoon, the dam was sitting at 97.5 per cent tipping it over the 100,000-megalitre watermark at some point last Thursday.

A spokesperson for WaterNSW said Chaffey cracking its historic century would depend on run-off into the dam.

In the last 24 hours, there has been just 87 megalitres of inflow recorded.

While 100 per cent capacity for Chaffey might be just out of reach for now, WaterNSW said it has capped off a “dramatic reversal” for the dam which was in an “uninspiring” situation just a number of months ago.

“It’s good news for landholders,” a WaterNSW spokesperson said.

“There’s a great deal of optimism returning and water users will be able to take full advantage of a vastly improved situation.

“A number of local economies depend on agribusiness. And it's good for the environment.”

Once the dam hits 100, Chaffey’s unique morning-glory spillway will come into play, running water down the Peel River, less than six months after the $46 million expansion of the dam was completed.

Just down the road, Dungowan Dam’s capacity was recorded at 99.83 on Sunday which means Tamworth’s main water supplies could hit 100 per cent for the first time in a number of years.

Both Dungowan and Chaffey spill into the Peel once they exceed capacity, but Tamworth Regional Council has said there are a number of flood mitigation measures in place.

With irrigators and other Tamworth users drawing from the Peel, TRC said “controlled release” and the wide banks of the river would prevent a significant event.

It only took a week of warmer temperatures to pique Tamworth’s water use up by nearly 20 per cent a day.

According to data from the Calala water treatment plant, Tamworth users were consuming 15.4 megalitres per day two week, but last week, as temperatures rose, daily usage jumped up to 18.1 megalitres.

The Bureau of Meteorology has recorded 612.6mm at Tamworth airport for 2016.

To the same point last year, Tamworth had received 509.2mm. 

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