A RECORD year of flooding has led to NSW dams, barely 20 per cent full 12 months ago now near or at capacity.
In the past financial year the Sydney Bureau of Meteorology sent out a record number of flood warnings: 1350. The previous record was 840 warnings, issued in the 1998-99 financial year.
''Some people may think that because we have just had our wettest autumn in eight years, it will have led to an increase in dam levels,'' said the bureau's state hydrology manager, Gordon McKay. ''But that rainfall fell mostly along the coast, and it was the major flooding we saw, especially throughout December and January, that has filled up the dams. Usually, it is the floods that will break a drought.''
Much of the flooding had been driven by the La Nina weather event. With that now over, rainfall should return to average, he said.
Several reservoirs were now full, including Googong Dam on the Queanbeyan River, Lake Cawndilla at Menindee, Pindari Dam north of Inverell and Tareelaroi Weir at Moree - none of which was full one year ago. Warragamba Dam in Sydney is 75 per cent full.
The Bureau of Meteorology water storage website shows that reservoirs throughout NSW are 68.9 per cent full on average, and were 31.1 per cent full this time last year.
That trend was replicated Australia wide, with dams on average at 50.9 per cent this time last year, compared with 73.4 per cent now.
The rainfall had been shared widely throughout the state, said the NSW Farmers Association President, Charles Armstrong. Most farmers were now receiving their full general allocation of water, he said.
''This time last year there was very patchy rain, while other areas did receive significant inflows. But generally you couldn't say it was anything like as good as it is at the moment.''
But not all farmers were celebrating, some not receiving enough rain to be able to sow their crops. The Copeton Dam, 30 kilometres south-west of Inverell and in the Murray-Darling drainage division, was only 48.7 per cent full and farmers there were not receiving their full allocation of water.
Mr Armstrong added that the recent deluge was not expected to continue.
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