A COMMUNITY-led campaign to ensure Lake Keepit never drops below 10 per cent capacity has taken a hit after carry over general security allocations became available.
The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) announced the allocations were available on Wednesday, just two days after lake stakeholders launched the 'Make Keepit Great Again' campaign.
Lake Keepit Family Fishing Club member Anne Michie described the announcement as "a kick in the gut" to recreational lake users.
"It is certainly a bit of a setback for us," Ms Michie told the Leader.
"Recreational activities at the lake have a vast variety of benefits for not just the fishing club, but for the sailing club and a number of different community groups.
"However, if the lake gets as low as it has been in the past 12 months, those activities aren't possible and the knock-on effect of that is huge."
The lake reached 11 per cent capacity on Friday, after falling as low as 0.3 per cent in December 2018.
Ms Michie said "it would be devastating" if the level was to drop once more.
"It's like what Ian Pine from the sailing club said, 'this is like our Sydney Harbour'," she said.
"The lake means so much to so many of us and we would hate to see it get so low again. I think the emotional, physical and mental benefits recreational activities held at the lake offer often get overlooked and undervalued.
"That's why it is so important for us to continue to lobby against something that could make it dip so low again.
"Basically we want to make sure 10 per cent is the new zero and we will keep fighting to make that happen."
Fellow club member Kevin Sheridan took to social media to vent his frustrations.
"This is shattering news and emphasises the failing of the Namoi Water Sharing Plan and our government leaders, [who] have learnt nothing from the last 12 months," Mr Sheridan's post read.
"There are many people affected by this decision, including businesses dependent on recreational users and various user groups themselves, spread across at least four LGAs [local government areas] in the Namoi Valley."
A WaterNSW spokesperson said the decision would not impact the dam's levels.
"This week, the DPIE lifted a temporary pump restriction on the Upper and Lower Namoi, as well as the Border Rivers, for general security access licences," the spokesperson said.
"With zero allocation in place since July 1 2019, this decision will only apply to a small volume of water currently held in carryover.
"With respect to Keepit Dam impacts, at this point in time releases will not be made to supply general security.
"WaterNSW modelling indicates that any such water orders received and approved can be supplied using the current naturally-occurring flow downstream of the dam, and therefore have no bearing on current storage levels.
"A very small release from Keepit is possible in the near future to provide stock and domestic supply for landholders immediately downstream of Keepit, who do not have access to river flows occurring further downstream.