Belubula River

Belubula River
Drought Stage

Stage 1 - Normal management

Stage 1 normal operations. De-escalated from Stage 3 severe in October 2020 and from stage 2 recovering in April 2021.

Storage Level
  • Carcoar Dam at 32% (11.5 GL) of active storage previously at 13% (4.5 GL) in January 2020.
Allocations
  • Zero for general security for 2019/20 and 2020/21. Full carryover was initially available in 2019/20 but subsequently restricted to 40% on 1 October 2019 until end of June 2020. No carryover restrictions in 2020/21.
  • Full domestic and stock and high security allocations for 2019/20 and 2020/21, although water below Canowindra not available to be supplied from regulated releases. Needs are being met by downstream tributary inflows.
  • Last general security allocation made in December 2016, however, irrigators have continued to have access to supplementary flows and only small volumes are being released from the dam.
Action
  • The end of system flow rule of 10 ML/day was met only intermittently throughout 2018/19 because of reduced water in storage and tributary inflows.
  • The rule in the water sharing plan was suspended from July 2019 and until the end of December 2020.
  • Access to uncontrolled flows not permitted initially in 2020 to meet end of system flow requirements, but made available continually from April 2020 which resulted in the drought stage being eased to Stage 2 and then to Stage 1 in April 2021.
  • End of system flow rule being met in 2020/21 from downstream tributary flows.
Issues
  • Continued low inflows into the storage from February 2017.
  • Dam is a relatively small storage with a maximum capacity of 36 GL and requirement to meet end of system flow target from releases can quickly deplete the storage.
  • Inflows were only 50% of previous 32 month minimum on record in 2019/20.
  • The Belubula remains the only regulated river system with no general security allocation in 2020/21, but water is available from downstream supplementary flows.
Outlook
  • Downstream tributary inflows have been meeting user demands, including general security orders, and the end of the system flow rule.
  • An additional 4,200 megalitres (ML) of inflow into Carcoar Dam is required to secure all current commitments and high priority needs until June 2023, which would enable an allocation to general security licences.