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Edward River height to stay just right

Former Deniliquin mayor says the NSW Water Sharing Plan ensures suitable river levels are maintained until after the Easter period.

ZOE MCMAUGH February 7, 2014 4:40am

It is unlikely the Edward River level will be drawn down before the Easter break, according to local stakeholders.

Local businessman and former Deniliquin mayor Brian Mitsch said the NSW Water Sharing Plan ensures suitable river levels are maintained until after the Easter period.

A Deniliquin councillor on the committee when the plan was developed in the early 2000s, Mr Mitsch said there was a clause in the plan which guarantees a ‘‘summer river level’’ until after the annual holiday.

Deniliquin Council says it has also had assurances from water authorities that every effort would be made to maintain river levels during peak holiday periods.

Mr Mitsch and Deniliquin Council were responding to calls from the Deniliquin Business Chamber for NSW water authorities to guarantee river heights for tourism activities, particularly at Easter.

Mr Mitsch said the clause to maintain heights until after Easter was written into the regulations as a result of a local push.

‘‘One of the issues I was able to raise is the tourism issue,’’ Mr Mitsch said.

‘‘I was able to get the committee to agree to a clause in the document which stipulated summer river levels would be in place until one week after the Easter school holidays.

‘‘We also included in the regulations that the river levels be brought back up before the September school holidays.

‘‘If the authorities were to bring down the river before the time set out in the document, they would be in breach of their own regulations.’’

It’s not the first time suitable river heights has been a hot topic of discussion in the local area, and Deniliquin Mayor Lindsay Renwick said council has been working alongside water authorities on the matter for a number of years.

‘‘Council has been aware for many years that a river height suitable for recreational use in peak holiday times is important for our town’s economy,’’ he said.

‘‘To help achieve a suitable river height, discussions were initiated with the Office of Water which now has a good understanding of our situation.

‘‘Staff from the Office of Water have been very supportive of council’s position.

‘‘They have assured us that whenever possible the river height will be maintained for our main holiday times.

‘‘There are no absolute guarantees that levels will be maintained, but the Office of Water has advised council this will occur whenever possible and I am extremely confident there will be no circumstances between now and Easter which will impact on that.’’

Cr Renwick added there were a number of factors that influence river heights, including demand for environmental flows, demand for irrigation water, supply needs in South Australia and storage levels in the dams.

‘‘Council understands there can be conflicting needs and demands for the use of available water.

‘‘However, we believe that by undertaking dialogue with the Office of Water our needs have been expressed. Council appreciates the priority which is now being given to these needs.

‘‘We will have further discussions as required, but I know the support we have been receiving from the Office of Water will continue and every possible effort will be made to ensure our beautiful river can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike throughout the rest of summer and autumn, including the Easter weekend.’’

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