Peel River

Peel River 
Drought stage

Stage 3 - Severe drought

Stage 3 severe water shortage

Storage Level
  • Chaffey Dam at 31% (30 GL) of active storage compared to 24% on 1 July 2019 but in June 2020 was only 14%.
Allocations
  • No allocation for general security in 2019/20 or 2020/21.
  • Last general security allocation made in October 2018.
  • Reduced allocations of 70% for high priority (town and domestic and stock) and 50% for high security users in 2019/20 and 2020/21.
Action
  • Some limited access uncontrolled flows in sections of the Peel River for general security users has been permitted in 2020.
  • Restrictions on access across the Northern Basin in January/February 2020 to protect flows for critical needs. These ended on 28 February but access for high security users was permitted during most of this period.
  • Temporary weir was constructed in the Peel River at Dungowan in 2019 to extend supply for Tamworth and reduce around 17,000 ML in transmission losses below Chaffey Dam. The Government committed $3.4 million for these works and $2 million for further supply investigations. This weir was removed in June 2020 with the commencement of the operation of the new $40m Chaffey Dam to Dungowan pipeline.
  • Rule in the water sharing plan requiring a minimum daily release from Chaffey Dam suspended on 2 December 2019 until 30 June 2020. Pulse releases for environmental purposes were being made instead until the pipeline commenced operation on 17 June 2020. Environmental releases were then subject to rules in the pipeline authorisation.
  • Use of pipeline ceased in late July when Tamworth Council was able to access supply from river flows and Dungowan and Chaffey Dam reached 20%. Normal minimum flow release of 3 ML/day then resumed.
  • Tamworth Regional Council eased town water supply restrictions on 31 August 2020 from Level 5 to Level 4 when Chaffey Dam reached 25% and will further reduce these to Level 3 on 1 November 2020 as Chaffey Dam has reached 30%.
  • Government has announced that it will construct a new larger Dungowan Dam.
  • Mixers were installed at priority sites in the Peel to improve quality of remaining pools during the drought.
Issues
  • Inflows into the dam were low and transmission losses below Chaffey Dam in 2019 were at record high levels.
  • Supply below Dungowan restricted from the start of December 2019 and alternative supply required for downstream commercial users. Tributary inflows below the dam from late January 2020 have provided some supplies for high priority and high security users, although regulated releases for users (only 3ML/day environmental release) have not re-commenced.
  • Some fish deaths in December 2019 below Dungowan as a result of ceasing flows and in January 2020 as a result of poor water quality from storm generated inflows.
Outlook
  • With the back-up of the pipeline from Chaffey Dam, town water supplies will be able to be met until 2022 even if inflows cease.