Lake Keepit capacity down 40 per cent due to irrigation demand

Picture perfect: A great day out on the water late last year at Lake Keepit when rainfall was plenty and the dam level, high. Photo: Marg Carr
Picture perfect: A great day out on the water late last year at Lake Keepit when rainfall was plenty and the dam level, high. Photo: Marg Carr

Water levels at Chaffey Dam remain strong but it’s a different story at Lake Keepit where capacity has dropped nearly 40 per cent in less than three months.

Keepit dam level was just 64 per cent on Thursday after reaching near capacity in late November, early December.

WaterNSW’s Tony Webber said increased water consumption by landholders as a result of dry weather, had caused levels to fall.

“Demand for irrigation water grew sharply after Christmas as dry conditions prevailed and on-farm storage was depleted,” he said.

“This change to dry weather also meant that very little by way of inflows were received into the storage.”

Mr Webber said current releases were 2300 megalitres per day, and as demand eased, release volumes would return to low flows by mid-March.

Keepit and neighbouring waterways experienced an outbreak of blue-green algae late last year. The dam has since been deemed safe but on Wednesday, another red level warning (high alert) for blue-green algae was issued, this time for Copeton Dam.

The Barwon Regional Algal Co-ordinating Committee warned people should not undertake recreational activities where they may be coming into direct contact with the water such as swimming, and domestic uses like showering and washing. Water contact also posed a threat to livestock and pets.

Chaffey Dam, which last year reportedly had enough water to last 10 years, was at 99 per cent capacity on Thursday. Copeton was 46.4 per cent.