Menindee Lakes: water facts

  • The Menindee Lakes system has a storage capacity of about 2000 gigalitres (GL). A gigalitre is one billion litres.
  • The Murray-Darling Basin Authority can release water until the storage drops below 480 GL, after which releases are controlled by the NSW government.
  • The storage peaked last in December 2016 and fell below 480 GL in December 2017.
  • The operating procedures for releasing water from the lakes were established in the late 1960s.
  • The lakes are drawn on before other storages in the system because the evaporation rates are very high – about 430 GL for an average year and up to 700 GL per year when the lakes are full.
  • The rate of releases over the past two years were reduced for a while to support a major cod breeding event.
  • The big problem has been very low rainfall in the northern basin over the past two years, meaning very low inflows.
  • Since the lake levels last peaked (in December 2016) there has been only 140 GL of inflow to the lakes and about 900 GL of evaporation. The total releases over that period were about 750 GL.
  • If those releases been held back there would have been a further 250 GL or so of evaporation, so the releases amounted, net, to 500 GL.
  • Some 90 GL of that was for environmental releases.
  • At the present there are only about 50 GL left in storage in the lakes.