The Central West Regional Algal Coordinating Committee (RACC) has issued a red level
warning (high alert) for blue-green algae in Burrendong Dam.
A red alert level warning indicates that people should not undertake recreational activities
where they may be coming into direct contact with the water such as swimming, as well as
domestic uses including showering and washing.
Contact with the water may also pose a threat to livestock and pets.
Warning signs are positioned at key recreational areas and will remain in place while high
levels of blue-green algae are present.
The species of blue-green algae identified are potentially toxic and may cause gastroenteritis
in humans if consumed and skin and eye irritations after contact. Boiling the water does not
remove algal toxins.
People are advised not to enter the water, not to drink untreated water or bathe in water
drawn from the dam while this red alert level warning is in place.
Town water supplies remain unaffected and safe to drink.
Livestock owners are reminded to continue to check stock water supplies for blue-green
algae and to remove stock from foreshores where surface scum is visible or blue-green
algae are suspected.
Blue-green algae usually appear as green paint-like scums on the water, near the edges, or
as greenish clumps throughout the water. It makes the water appear dirty, green or
discoloured and generally has a strong musty or earthy odour.
People should not eat mussels or crayfish from red level warning areas. Any fish caught
should be cleaned and washed thoroughly in uncontaminated water and any internal organs
disposed of before consumption.
Blue-green algae occur naturally and can reproduce quickly in favourable conditions where
there is still or slow-flowing water, abundant sunlight and sufficient levels of nutrients.
It is not possible to predict how long the algae will remain at high levels. Regular monitoring
will continue and the alert will be lifted as soon as the high levels of algae dissipate.
Information updates about blue-green algae blooms and red level warning areas can be
obtained from the Regional Algal Coordinating Committee freecall Algal Information Hotline
on 1800 999 457 or visit – www.water.nsw.gov.au
Macquarie River Food & Fibre (MRFF) has congratulated WaterNSW on their management of Burrendong Dam in recent months following record rainfalls across many parts of NSW.
MRFF Chairman Michael Egan said that WaterNSW had done a good job of managing dam releases and communicating closely with the local Macquarie Flood Zone Mitigation Reference Panel (FZMRP). The FMZRP is made up of representatives from WaterNSW, local councils and residents from all of the impacted river sections.
“WaterNSW has done a great job of managing releases from the dam in recent weeks and communicating with the local Flood Reference Panel to understand the impact of dam releases on different sections of the river” said Mr Egan.
Burrendong Dam received record inflows of 940,000 megalitres in September which is equivalent to 80% of the dam’s storage capacity and almost double the amount of water held in Sydney Harbour.
“Considering that the dam reached 100% capacity in early September and then went on to receive record inflows in the same month, WaterNSW have done a good job minimising flood impacts under difficult circumstances”
“We have seen a range of issues as a result of flooding, including crop losses and road closures, but the impacts would have been much worse if the dam releases weren’t managed appropriately” said Mr Egan.
The dam reached a high of 136% capacity (approximately 1,620,000 megalitres) on the 23rd of September after sitting at 11% only 4 months earlier at the beginning of June.
“Thankfully the rain has eased off since the beginning of October which has allowed WaterNSW to regain some airspace and farmers to get into their paddocks for the first time in a long time” Mr Egan said.
Burrendong Dam is one of the largest inland dams in NSW with a capacity of 1,678,000 megalitres. The dam’s capacity includes 1,188,000 megalitres of water storage and a potential 490,000 megalitres of air space for flood mitigation.
DPI Water has today issued a Water Allocation Statement for the Macquarie-Cudgegong Valley noting that despite the recent rain and modest inflows no additional allocation can be made at this time.
Approximately 90,000 ML of inflow to Burrendong is required during the month of November to make a new allocation. It is estimated that a total of almost 30,000 ML is forecast to arrive from the rain so far this month.
The inflow does improve the security of supply and has deferred the need for any bulk transfer from Windamere to Burrendong for at least another year, i.e. there will be no transfer required before November 2016.
DPI water has also provided an update on its allocation prognosis for general security licence holders for the 2015/16 water year. The prognosis for general security licence holders under a range of inflow scenarios is summarised in the table below.
While Macquarie Valley irrigators last week celebrated a modest 7% allocation announcement to support irrigated agriculture for the upcoming season, the Federal and State Government water holders began the release of this year’s managed environmental flow from Burrendong Dam.
The water sharing plan provisions and substantial recovery of water licences from irrigators means that more than 80% of the long-term average annual flow in the Macquarie Regulated River system is maintained for the environment. The remaining flows are available for extraction under licence by local water utilities, stock and domestic users, and the valley’s $250 million irrigation industry.
 Based on ABS estimate of Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production per ML applied for Central West NSW