13 February 2020

Water restrictions ease for Braidwood and Yass

| Michael Weaver
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Flooding at Jembaicumbene Creek

Flooding at Jembaicumbene Creek in between Majors Creek and Braidwood this week. Photo: Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council.

Following months concern about water security in Braidwood and Yass, water restrictions have been lifted following the recent widespread rainfall.

Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) said it will relax water restrictions from level four to three in Braidwood after the Shoalhaven River began flowing again.

Level three restrictions for Braidwood will start on 14 February, and water restrictions have been lifted in the Yass township after drenching rain filled the Yass Dam to overflowing.

There have been no restriction on the use of water in Yass, Binalong and Bowning since midnight on 11 February.

Murrumbateman will go down to level one water restrictions until, at least, the Yass to Murrumbateman pipeline project is complete.

In Braidwood, there were fears the town would run out of water, although a water carting agreement between the ACT Government and Icon Water that allows QPRC to cart water to Braidwood will remain in place.

However, a Council spokesperson said it has not yet needed to resort to this measure.

“To date, water has been carted from Bungendore. Carting from Queanbeyan was about to commence in the coming weeks but is now no longer needed in the immediate future. It may be called upon if we return to dry conditions and the river stops flowing again,” the spokesperson said.

Level four restrictions came into effect in Braidwood on 10 January when an extended dry period saw the Shoalhaven River reduced to just pools and ponds.

Braidwood’s resident weatherman Roger Hosking, who initially queried the reading of the Shoalhaven River Water NSW gauge at Warri Bridge, told Region Media water has flowed over Bombay Bridge, which indicates a flow of 7.5 megalitres (mL) per day.

Mr Hosking said soil moisture levels have also greatly improved, with the soil dryness index showing there is 50 mm of soil still capable of holding moisture before it is classed as saturated. Before the rain, the soil dryness was 167 mm deep.

“My feeling is that the current flow of water into the Shoalhaven River will be sustained for quite a while. The groundwater has built up now and is sufficient enough to maintain a flow for quite some time,” Mr Hosking said.

He recorded 130 mm of rain in Braidwood and 156 mm at Bendoura near Majors Creek. In the Budawang National Park, rainfall totals were as high as 480 mm and 500 mm in some places.

“Every little creek and rivulet in the topography is running with water and there is, without doubt, saturation over the eastern part of the district,” Mr Hosking said.

“This will bring tremendous relief for farmers in the area. The ground is still warm so there is already a billiard table green showing in the grass and the growth is instantaneous.”

QPRC Mayor Cr Tim Overall said that while the rain comes as a welcome relief, residents should still be mindful of their water consumption.

“The flowing Shoalhaven River means we can resume pumping to our off-river storage dam in the coming days when the first flush of ash and debris in the river settles. Our aim will be to restore the off-river dam to 100 per cent capacity if possible.

“With the dam full and the river flowing, Braidwood’s water security will be increased and the community will get some relief from the relatively harsh restrictions that have been in place,” Mayor Overall said.

Full details of level three water restrictions for Braidwood are available on the QPRC website.

At Yass, rainfall totals have differed across the region, with reports ranging between 60 mm and 100 mm.

“The dam is over-topping and that is expected to continue for the next five to six days,” said Yass Council’s Director of Infrastructure and Assets Stan Robb.

“We are, however, constantly monitoring water levels in the Yass Dam and our water usage across the Local Government Area. If we don’t get continued rainfall over the next month, there is always a chance that water restrictions will need to be reintroduced.”

Mr Robb said the Council will also monitor water quality, which may be affected by rainfall after such a prolonged dry spell.

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