SHOCKING: Dam could be empty by March
TOONUMBAR Dam is a sorry sight.
The weekend rain barely made a difference to the low level of water which is green and smelly. The floor of the dam, usually covered with water, is cracked and grey.
A WaterNSW spokesman said Toonumbar Dam is currently less than 18% of storage capacity and continuing to fall as a result of unusually dry conditions and corresponding increase in downstream demand by licence-holders.
At this stage under a worst case scenario of zero inflows Toonumbar Dam could experience cease-to-flow conditions around March 2020, the spokesman said.
"While the dam does not provide town water supply, it is an important source of stock and domestic water and other agricultural usage downstream, along Iron Pot Creek and Eden Creek, before reaching the Richmond River," the spokesman said.
Situated as it is in an area with typically high and dependable rainfall, Toonumbar storage is often at capacity or spilling.
"Throughout 2018 the storage was at or about 100%, dipping to 90% between August and October that year, before spilling again in Mind-October 2018," WaterNSW said.
"However increasingly dry conditions have resulted in the storage dropping consistently from December 2018 to the present, with very little inflows."
WaterNSW met with customers in Casino on December 10 to discuss the outlook should the drought persist.
Kyogle Council is calling on the NSW Government to commit to raising the Toonumbar Dam wall by six metres to improve drought security and encourage further investment in agricultural production.
Kyogle Council mayor Danielle Mulholland said WaterNSW had advised council the wall couldn't be raised without actually increasing the height of the existing embankment.
Rather, it could be achieved by building a new spillway to the south of the existing dam and installing gates on the current spillway.