Water releases from Keepit Dam will cease within days as its level falls towards the point of “dead storage”, WaterNSW has said.
The level has fallen almost another 30 per cent in the past week, and is near the point where it will no longer be able to drain out through gravity.
WaterNSW told a meeting of stakeholders in Manilla this week that, after a block release to customers that began in October, there would be “no releases from Keepit storage … until we get significant rainfall”.
Enough will be retained in the dam for “critical needs” into 2020: Manilla and Barraba town water, and stock and domestic demands.
Recreational users continue to make the best of the conditions, Lake Keepit Family Fishing Club president Anne Michie said.
“People have been catching a lot of silver perch out there … which has been an interesting thing we’ve seen this year as the levels have dropped,” she said.
“There has also been some nice cod caught throughout the year.”
This weekend, the club will hold its Christmas party and its Medal of Medals competition – “a big fish-off for bragging rights, the ‘medal of medals’ and $200 from Petrie’s Mitre 10 in Gunendah”, Ms Michie said.
Gunnedah South Public School Year 4 students have also not let low water levels interfere with their fun, enjoying activities such as kayaking and archery during an excursion this week.
Lake Keepit Sailing Club commodore Ian Pine said the water drop “curtails our activities to some degree”.
“We continue to operate and use the boats that are suitable for the water we have left – leaving the big ones on dry land,” he said.
“At these levels, the size of the course is obviously curtailed quite a lot and … when you get down in the ‘saucer’, it has an impact on the wind; it tends to generally be calmer.”