Management of Menindee Lakes 2011-2012 – Issue 8. 20 April 2012

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The flood peak in the Darling River is currently entering the Menindee Lakes. Inflows of 64,000 megalitres per day (ML/d) have been recently calculated and inflows of over 50,000 ML/d day are expected to continue over the weekend before beginning to fall. Airspace in the lakes is being used to minimise the flood impact around the  Menindee township and downstream. Upstream at Wilcannia the river is falling slowly and no further rises are anticipated for this event.

This paper, and updates to follow, describes current flow conditions and operations, as well as information on what
can be expected through April and May as the flood waters pass through the Darling River system.
Residents and authorities are reminded to check with the NSW Office of Water in Buronga on the required
approvals before undertaking any earthworks to protect infrastructure or crops.
 

Management of Menindee Lakes 2011-2012 Issue 7 – 5 April 2012

Content

Introduction
The flood peak in the Darling River is now approaching Wilcannia. Upstream at Tilpa the river level is falling and no
further rises are anticipated in this event. Downstream at Menindee, high inflows to the lakes system are expected
throughout April and into May, however, maximum outflows will be limited to current levels. The NSW Office of
Water and State Water Corporation are continuing to manage operations at Menindee Lakes in anticipation of the
forecast inflows.
This information paper updates current flow conditions and operations, as well as provides information on what can
be expected through April and May as the flood waters pass through the Darling River system.
In short, residents along the Darling River, from downstream of Tilpa to Burtundy, can expect an extended period of
high flow and widespread rural inundation, similar to events of 1971, 1990 and 1998.
Residents and authorities are reminded to check with the NSW Office of Water in Buronga, approvals that
might be necessary before undertaking any earthworks to protect infrastructure or crops.

River Operations
Darling River Flows and Menindee Storage Volume
The flow in the Darling River main channel at Wilcannia is currently at 39,000 megalitres per day and the flow in the
Talyawalka Creek is over 50,000 megalitres per day. This combined flow is expected to approach a maximum of
about 100,000 megalitres per day over the next few days causing major flooding. This is slightly lower than the
early forecasts but comfortably within the range of planning expectations.
Downstream at Menindee, releases from the lakes system have been made in preparation of the anticipated
significant inflows. The lakes are currently 82 percent full and can hold a further 600,000 megalitres under
surcharge conditions. A large proportion of this available airspace will be used to manage forecast inflows of
between 60,000 and 70,000 megalitres per day during April.
The main weir gate has been re-positioned in the water to limit outflows (measured at Weir 32) to a maximum of
35,000 megalitres per day, making town flooding and conditions immediately downstream of Menindee no more
severe than what is currently being experienced. This will also cause lake levels to rise throughout April and May.
The NSW Office of Water will aim to begin reducing outflows from the lakes as soon as possible to allow water
levels to fall and alleviate flooding in the Menindee town area and downstream. However this is not expected until
May. Minimising outflows will also ensure that the lakes are full at the end of this flood event to provide maximum
resource availability into the future.
Lower Darling River Flows
Downstream flooding could be similar to that experienced during the 1998 flood which had a comparable peak flow
at Bourke of 230,000 megalitres per day (13.78m gauge height). Menindee releases to the Lower Darling in that
event reached 46,500 ML per day through Weir 32 (7.45m gauge height or 10.0m at the Menindee Town gauge).
The targeted peak flow for this 2012 event is 35,000 megalitres per day through Weir 32 and with flows from the
Talyawalka, combined flows in the Lower Darling immediately downstream of the Menindee Lakes will be as high
as 50,000 megalitres per day. Historically, flows of this size, generally flow evenly to the Lower Darling and the
Great Anabranch.
As far as possible the NSW Office of Water will reduce lake outflows at the time of peak Talyawalka inflows below
Weir 32 to minimise the influence of the Talyawalka on the Lower Darling. If that can be achieved then a flow pulse
of 22,000 - 24,000 megalitres per day in the Lower Darling will not be experienced but rather steady flow conditions
of around 18,000 to 20,000 megalitres per day produced by the Menindee outflows for the past few weeks, will be
seen.
Water levels in the Lower Darling River at Pooncarie and Burtundy are both rising very slowly. The NSW Office of
Water will aim to keep peak flow in the Lower Darling below that of the 1998 event, and no more than about 24,000
ML per day (7.7m gauge height) at Pooncarie and 22,000 ML per day (7.7m gauge height) at Burtundy.
Great Darling Anabranch Flows
Flow in the Lower Darling at the Great Anabranch effluent has been relatively steady throughout March at around
18,000 megalitres per day, commensurate with the steady flows through Weir 32. In the Anabranch at Wycot the
flow gradually rose through March to reach 13,000 megalitres per day and some 4.2 metres. At the peak of flow,
expected in late April/May, levels are not expected to exceed 5.2 metres. A few thousand megalitres per day is now
flowing in the lower reaches of the Anabranch and joining the Murray River. It is anticipated that this full
connectivity through the Anabranch system will last at least through May, with significant flow volumes expected to
reach the Murray River.
Combined Murray and Murrumbidgee River Flows
The flood peak in the Murrumbidgee River is current downstream of Hay where the river is now falling from 12.9
metres. Peak flow of around 40,000 megalitres per day is expected at Balranald next week. This water will then
enter the Murray River and produce flows at Euston Weir of up to 60,000 megalitres per day from mid April.
It is expected that the Murray peak flow will pass Wentworth in mid to late April with the Darling River contributing
steadily flows of around 18,000 to 22,000 megalitres per day during this period. Flows from the Great Darling
Anabranch will be much longer in arriving at the Murray and have minimal impact on peak flows.
It is expected that high flows to South Australia will persist from mid-late April to early

Daily Rainfall at Charleville Office June 2011 to January 2012

Daily Rainfall at Charleville Office June 2011 to January 2012
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Rainfall and Water Flows

Chemical Accreditation Workshop Success

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PEST prevention does not simply stop once an exclusion fence is completed.

On Tuesday and Wednesday South West NRM conducted a training course for cluster members delivered by Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges (QATC).

The training can also be credited towards a AHC32816 Certificate 3 in Rural Operations.

The main objective for most graziers who attended the course was to gain eligibility to apply to Queensland Health for a permit to buy 1080 capsules which are used in Canid Pest Ejectors as another tool for wild dog mitigation.

The two-day course included hands-on instruction from Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges instructor Fred McPhie.

Mr McPhie’s demonstrations included: safety, transportation, storage, handling and use of chemicals; calibration techniques for boom sprays and backpacks; spraying techniques and set up of Canid Pest Ejector devices in the field.

“We all have a duty of care to ourselves and employees to be proactive with farm safety,” Mr McPhie says.

South West NRM will be funding more QATC courses like this in the future. The next chemical accreditation course will be held in mid-April.

This training course was funded through the QLD government’s Natural Resource Management investment theme to train cluster managers in wild dog control.

 

End.

CONTACTS

Prepared by Martin Volz, Media Officer, martin.volz@swnrm.org.au

More information Phil McCullough, CEO, 0407 126 689

Transformation: Problem to Precision

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FISCAL sustainability of local communities is a key goal for South West NRM when establishing exclusion fences, and another positive side-effect has emerged: improved mental wellbeing.

Within the recently completed Clifton Exclusion Fence, between Quilpie and Windorah, Wendy Groves says she is no longer feeling the mental strain knowing that she and her husband, Ross Groves, have an exclusion fence.

Before the exclusion fence was built, the anxiety from bearing witness to the aftermath of wild dog attacks on sheep fully dawned on Mrs Groves when a neighbour asked: ‘How do you handle that?’

On their property, Clifton, constant wild dog attacks on sheep left the Groveses distraught time and time again.

“We knew wool as a golden fleece but then we knew it as blood stained fleeces,” Mrs Groves says.

“It is heart wrenching for a man to see the slaughter of his sheep. We were emotionally taxed.”

Mrs Groves did not let those feelings go unheard.

As the chaos of wild dog attacks unfolded on their property and continued to disrupt their lives, the Groveses would speak candidly at community events about what they experienced in the paddocks.

Their lacking denial of wild dog attacks on sheep and persistent honesty helped shape the situation as realistically as possible.

“We were never going to let it die easily,” Mrs Groves says.

“We didn’t have the option to fence our 128 kilometres of boundary.”

“We were at a loss of how to find a victory.”

From the real nightmare of slain sheep at the jaws of wild dogs, the Groveses searched far and wide to find the answer to the bloody mess; a search that took the pair down a path known as transformative resilience.

Resilience – the act of picking yourself up from a setback - is a fundamental skill in the Bush; transformative resilience takes on a whole new dimension.

Transformative resilience is the process in which an individual, group or community improve through a setback.

Transformative resilience involves transition through six steps: comfort zone, disruption, chaos, discovery of a catalyst, movement to a new reality, and finally, comfort with new changes in place.

 

Transformative Resilience Steps and Clifton Exclusion Fence Actions:

1. Comfort Zone - Wild dog attacks have limited impact on livestock; agribusiness model continues unchanged

2. Disruption - Wild dog attacks suddenly increase forcing graziers to consider alternatives to fight pests

3. Chaos - Mental and financial struggle to fight battle against wild dogs; some graziers forced to destock

4. Discovery of catalyst - Exclusion fence will help reduce wild dog attacks and allow for increased livestock production; in effect an exclusion fence will promote sustainable production of beef and wool

5. Movement towards a new reality - Exclusion fence is built; remaining wild dogs hunted

6. Comfortable with new changes in place - Graziers run livestock at optimum levels; greatly reduce fear of wild dog attacks; improvement in mental wellbeing

 

Wild dog attacks take any grazier and business from a comfort zone into disruption and chaos as they look for an answer to counter the pests.

For the Groveses, moving beyond those issues proved to be a separate challenge altogether.

Their aim was easy enough to voice.

The wild dog attacks on sheep were impossible to ignore.

After all, the Groveses were forced to sell the remainder of their flock in 2016.

The challenge: building team unison with other potential exclusion fence members.

Conversations with neighbours about pest management were not necessarily gaining traction; acceptance of wild dog attacks on sheep and its ghastly side-effects were not the catalysts that got the exclusion fence project up and running.

“We couldn’t sit there just talking about this, have to try something.”

While attending a Church meeting on the Gold Coast Mrs Groves found a catalyst. A Church spokesperson revealed a message within the acronym PURE. Purpose. Unity. Resources. Execute.

Mrs Groves envisioned that this message would help bring together neighbouring graziers to form an exclusion fence cluster.

People unite around a purpose, which in the case of the Clifton Cluster evolved around increasing carrying capacity, Mrs Groves explains.

At their first meeting to incorporate a cluster, Mrs Groves asked stakeholders to come prepared with a figure on how many stock they wanted to run in a best-case scenario.

“The purpose is also for increasing financial ability, longevity of the place and keeping kids on the land, not mining.”

True to what Mrs Groves heard at the Gold Coast, neighbours rallied behind them in support of an exclusion fence, jointly funded by South West NRM and RAPAD.

The catalyst also acted as a means to build social cohesion.

“One neighbour who was not interested in wild dog management started to say, I care about their [Clifton Exclusion Fence] purpose.”

Through South West NRM’s consultation and support the Groveses realised their mission of a completed exclusion fence in December 2017.

“South West NRM have been amazing. There were dynamic. They were understanding as the process went along knowing how busy graziers are.”

“They were upfront and answered all questions.”

Their wellbeing - down in the gutter at the sight of another attack on their sheep - turned upward with the realisation that there was a way forward through sharing a common purpose with their neighbours and the continued support offered by South West NRM.

Instrumental in creating a community-supported pest control management group, the Groveses, along with neighbours, are now trapping remaining wild dogs inside the exclusion fence.

Their move towards a life without wild dogs has provided the Groveses with a deep sense of satisfaction.

The new changes in effect at the Clifton Exclusion Fence will allow for the sustainable production of beef and wool in the future, as well as help keep spirits high.

“I cry when I am happy and I cry when I am sad,” Mrs Groves says.

“I went and looked at the fence, stood there and cried: yay this is really happening. There is an overwhelming sense that we have an answer and this is the light at the end of the tunnel.”

 

End.

CONTACTS

Prepared by Martin Volz, Media Officer, martin.volz@swnrm.org.au

More information Phil McCullough, CEO, 0407 126 689

 

 

A Bridge of Understanding

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BUILDING dialogue and an understanding of the Mulgalands landscapes between urban travellers and rural stakeholders is a key priority for Evening Star Tourist Park owner Craig Alison

Located outside Charleville on the Adavale Road, Evening Star guests have the opportunity to learn all about how the various ecosystems in South West Queensland work, from soil types to vegetation, native species, pests, livestock management and the importance of water and water infrastructure.

Through designated workshops, seminars and on-site tours, Mr Alison demonstrates to city dwellers how Mulga growth shapes South West Queensland landscapes as a native, weed and livestock fodder.

Mr Alison’s mission, to educate urban dwellers about the sustainable management of natural resources, was first recognised when he received the South West NRM 2016 Mulga Awards tourism award for natural resource management.

His message to tourists summarises the economic, environmental and social needs of rural communities to maintain themselves, starting in the paddock with sustainable agriculture.

He says the tours provide an important link of understanding between urban and rural dwellers.

“The demarcation of understanding between rural and urban residents about how we manage the landscape has been slowly growing over the past 20 years and is now at a point where understanding and appreciation of Mulgalands management techniques is a wide chasm,” Mr Alison says.

“There used to be a lot of information sharing when we all had family members living in both the city and bush. That doesn’t happen anymore. There are lot of misconceptions based on visual stimulus of tourists driving through our landscapes and mass media in the city which relates back to lack of social connectivity.”

At the end of their stay at the Evening Start Tourist Park, Mr Alison hands out extra reading materials to tourists so that as they continue their Outback adventure. They can better relate to whatever landscape they come across.

“It is like a memory bomb of knowledge that they can reference to whilst travelling or relate to when they are discussing the landscape with other visitors,” Mr Alison says.

Since accepting the South West NRM Mulga Award two years ago, Mr Alison says he continues to feel passionate about the dialogue he builds with tourists when they visit the region.

“I feel almost environmentally content articulating the environment we live in,” Mr Alison says.

When tourists ask how they can help struggling rural communities, Mr Alison’s answer is simple.

“Craig says you are already helping by visiting our region because tourism dollars have beneficial flow on effects to all manner of businesses in our small rural community from the local butcher, to the coffee shop and mechanical service centres, for example.”

“The fact is they are out here and learning about us and where we call home.”

End.

CONTACTS

Prepared by Martin Volz, Media Officer, martin.volz@swnrm.org.au

More information Phil McCullough, CEO, 0407 126 689

 

Proposal could help improve station productivity

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DISCUSSIONS about challenges graziers face from drought and threats posed by tree-clearing laws were top of the agenda when South West NRM chairperson Mark O’Brien met with Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner during his recent visit to Charleville.

The meeting involved discussions about vegetation management, exclusion fences and Mr O’Brien’s proposal for a contingent liability loan scheme.

Mr O’Brien proposed in 2017 for the development of a scheme which would allow graziers who did not meet criteria to gain access to financial assistance to put exclusion fences up.

The contingent liability loan scheme, similar to a HECS loan, involves graziers repaying the interest-free fund once they earn a profit.

“Fixed repayment schedules do not work with drought,” Mr O’Brien says.

“The Government can’t give out free money forever.

“Graziers need to be able to measure revenue and make a payment from that.”

Mr O’Brien says flexibility is a key priority for the proposed scheme to work effectively.

He says the Morven cluster has shown that exclusion fencing works for local communities, helping to grow the local economy and increased number of people residing in the town.

The scheme would focus on outlying properties who could not form clusters and the sheep and wool areas of Western Queensland.

During the meeting Mr Furner and Mr O’Brien also discussed vegetation management and its importance for South West Queensland businesses and communities.

Mr O’Brien says South West NRM wants the Government to be conscious of the fact that graziers in the South West Queensland region are the best environmentalists.

“All but a handful of graziers comply and consideration needs to be given for continued Mulga harvesting during drought,” Mr O’Brien says.

 

End.

CONTACTS

Prepared by Martin Volz, Media Officer, martin.volz@swnrm.org.au

More information Phil McCullough, CEO, 0407 126 689

Media Contact: 

Patron Provides New Insight

Content

PROMOTING best land management practices which result in economic, social and cultural benefits will be a priority for South West NRM’s newly appointed 2018 patron, former Federal Member for Maranoa The Honourable Bruce Scott.

Originally a wool and grain grower, Mr Scott says he has always shown interest in finding a balance between environmental, economic and social aspects of life in the Outback.

During his political tenure from 1990-2016 Mr Scott sat on various portfolios and committees involving primary industries, and rural and regional development.

“Throughout my parliamentary life I have taken great interest in the environment,” Mr Scott says. “If you address the environment and business of the land you get desired social outcomes.”

Ensuring that the South West remains a region in which people want to live, work and play is a fundamental aspect of the newly created patron role at South West NRM.

“We need to make sure our assets are in the best condition for future generations,” South West NRM CEO Phil McCullough says.

“We need champions at all levels from land management to politics. The patron is a champion of voice, how we get out stories to people in other segments of life.”

It is Mr Scott’s interest, life and career in the region that South West NRM Chairperson Mark O’Brien says will create a win-win situation for innovation and sustainability.

“We warmly welcome his acceptance of our invitation and involvement with ongoing work at South West NRM,” Mr O’Brien says. “He is very well respected and passionate about South West Queensland. We are keen to get Bruce’s experience.”

Mr Scott says South West NRM’s implementation of cluster fencing programs -the first in Australia – alongside land care practices, have positioned the organisation as a national leader, particularly in low rainfall areas.

Born and raised near Muckadilla, Mr Scott’s life experience also embodies the mission of South West NRM - combining local knowledge with wider regional goals in order to create a harmonious mix of environmental sustainability that also benefits the social, cultural and economic needs of South West Queensland communities.

Currently, Mr Scott is the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre director, Telstra Regional Advocacy Council’s co-chair and sits on the Royal Flying Doctor Service board.

 

End.

CONTACTS

Prepared by Martin Volz, Media Officer, martin.volz@swnrm.org.au

More information Phil McCullough, CEO, 0407 126 689

 

Media Contact: 

Making the most of what you’ve got

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ROB Rennick’s keen interest in making the most of natural resources on his property, Gumbardo, has not wilted during the recent heat waves or drought.

The 2016 South West NRM Mulga Award overall winner says although dry times make it difficult to maintain sustainable vegetation changes, come wetter times there are plenty of projects to put into action.

“I came to the realisation it is very hard to improve this country during dry times,” Mr Rennick says.

“After drought you start from scratch again.”

When the rains come Mr Rennick says he plans to make the most of water runoff by employing the method of water spreading.

“If you get 16 inches, it just runs off,” he says.

Grading flat contour lines and putting in breaks, runoff water will have more time to soak into the Red Mulga soil and provide grasses an extra chance to grow.

Mr Rennick received the 2016 South West NRM Mulga Award for being involved and supporting grassroots Landcare movements, and managing the natural resources of Gumbardo for environmental and economic benefit.

With Gumbardo currently offering plenty of young Mulga for his 1000 head of cattle to feed on, Mr Rennick says he has not had to push for fodder during the current drought.

“The young Mulga is growing and it is essential out here to treat Mulga as a crop,” he says.

“Pushing Mulga is not clearing Mulga. Generally, if you leave the sticks there, it will come up,” Mr Rennick says.

Mr Rennick’s main message, as an ambassador for sustainable land management, is focused mostly on urban folk.

“Mulga is different to the rest of the tree clearing business and we need to try to get city people to come have a look.”

“You need not worry about it, the Mulga will come up again.”

Recently the cattleman has also been able to trial grasses in the red soil, with the Seca variety providing hope as a fodder alternative.

“Up until six months ago Seca was surviving drought,” he says.

 

End.

CONTACTS

Prepared by Martin Volz, Media Officer, martin.volz@swnrm.org.au

More information Phil McCullough, CEO, 0407 126 689

Media Contact: 

Tourist rush to start soon on Kilcowera Station

Content

WITH Summer and its incessant heat drawing to a close, Greg and Toni Sherwin will soon be opening Kilcowera Station’s gates to adventurers traversing Outback Queensland.

By showing country hospitality to travellers, the pair act as rural ambassadors, explaining the ins and outs of life on the organic beef property and the synergy that exists between agriculture, native vegetation and wildlife.

“It is satisfaction, you know. We love our place and love showing people around.”

The Sherwins’ work ethic and passion for the Bush was recognised by South West NRM when they were awarded the 2016 Mulga Award for Innovation.

South West NRM focuses on achieving sustainable landscapes for rural communities through economic, environmental, cultural and social projects.

South West NRM’s Mulga Award for Innovation highlighted the Sherwins’ efforts to welcome tourists to Kilcowera Station and teach them about life in the Bush from economic, environmental and sustainable perspectives.

“We get across a message that we are looking after the environment,” Mrs Sherwin says.

“Some city people have the perception that we may flog the land. We educate them about food production.”

Come April, when tourist season starts, caravans, motor-bikes and planes will inundate Kilcowera Station, keeping the Sherwins busy as hosts, tour guides and educators.

Mrs Sherwin is certain of one thing when tourists visit: they are amazed at how well sheep and cattle do even if drought persists.

“Here we have them on our place and they can check fences, sheds, and cattle,” Mrs Sherwin says.

“It opens many people’s eyes to see how we live and how things are done.”

The pair currently run 400 head of cattle spread across 200,000 acres on Kilcowera Station and neighbouring Zenonie.

Kilcowera Station, noted for its Mulga Rangelands, wetlands and birdlife, averages 1000 guests a year.

“We have been doing this for 17 years and some people come and say ‘we’ve never stayed on a cattle property before’ because many just stay in caravan parks.

“The environment and cattle are drawcards.”

Tourists are greeted for a 30-minute chat about the property and tour options; receive information booklets they can use when driving around the property; and, in return, provide the Sherwins with contact to other parts of the world.

“It is nice to have people around and have a chat” Mrs Sherwin says.

“We’ve made good friends over the years.”

Some regulars even return to caretake while the Sherwins go on holiday.

Kilcowera Station, located 90 kilometres south of Thargomindah, is vital for Bulloo Shire tourism.

“There is a sense of validation of work for the wider community,” Mrs Sherwin says.

“We are important to Bulloo Shire as a tourist attraction.”

 

End.

CONTACTS

Prepared by Martin Volz, Media Officer, martin.volz@swnrm.org.au

More information Phil McCullough, CEO, 0407 126 689

 

Media Contact: