Flows into the Edward River are dropping and could soon impact on the river’s health, user safety and even tourism if not rectified soon.
That is the message from the Deniliquin Boat Club and other regular river users, who say there’s more than just tourism dollars at stake if the inflows continue to drop.
The Deniliquin Boat Club has started lobbying the relevant authorities, with the hope some inflows can be sustained until after the Easter period.
Boat Club commodore Michael Byrne said while the situation is not dire now, without any effort to rectify the low to no flows being experienced, the Edward River may not be usable for traditional Easter activities in a month’s time.
‘‘We might not have a big issue right now, but we will if we don’t do something,’’ Mr Byrne said.
‘‘We need the level to be constant for safety on the river, which we know can affect the number of people coming to Deniliquin on weekends and for Easter. It’s the same battle we have this time every year.
‘‘If we don’t do something there will be an impact on our town, and the Boat Club may have to cancel its ski school two months early — which is a main source of our income.
‘‘It was about this time a few years ago the flows dropped and we had a blue green algae outbreak which destroyed our Easter tourism.
‘‘While there is no indication yet this will happen again, the risk of history repeating itself is there.’’
Deniliquin business owner and regular river user Craig Druitt said he believes the weir pool at Deniliquin has been lowered and flows have been reduced because inflows are being sent downstream via the Murray at Echuca.
He said this ‘‘political’’ decision has the ability to significantly impact on Deniliquin businesses, who have financially contributed to the promotion of Deniliquin as a tourism destination because of its river at this time of the year.
‘‘River levels are impacting on the community, and will have a particular impact on tourism,’’ Mr Druitt said.
‘‘We as business ratepayers pay a special tourism levy to be spent advertising this area and yet our river drops halfway through the tourism season.
‘‘The weir pool has dropped about 500mm, and I don’t understand why this could not be held up until after Easter.
‘‘Coming into Easter we would like to see the river at about 2.4 metres, because anything below that could start getting dangerous for river users.’’
For the past week, the Edward River has been fluctuating between 2m and 2.1m which a WaterNSW spokesperson did confirm was below average for this time of year.
The spokesperson said it is the result of inflows into the Edward dropping from an average of 2500 megalitres per day in January to an average of 2000ML per day this month.
While flows and levels are expected to rise over coming weeks due to irrigation demand, that demand will have ceased by mid-March and into Easter.
WaterNSW expects river levels at Easter to be about 2m, the spokesperson said.
~ continued page 5