Water releases to take dam to priority levels
WATER releases from Leslie Dam have had some residents from the Warwick area scratching their heads, due to the already low level in the dam, which sits at about 20% capacity.
The last time Leslie Dam was at full capacity was in September 2011 and, during 2016, the highest level recorded was only 31.7% on October 11.
Since 2012 the dam level has been dropping steadily, with most years having a sharp decline at some point.
Water utility company SunWater controls Leslie Dam, and senior media and communication advisor Kate O'Connell said releases from Leslie Dam were not unusual.
"The water in Leslie Dam belongs to SunWater customers,” Ms O'Connell said.
"These are rural users - farmers, irrigators - and then urban users, council etc,” she said.
"And the water in the dam is carefully allocated to these customers.
"Our rural customers are our medium-priority customers and the urban users are high priority.”
Ms O'Connell said the lower levels of water in the dam were reserved for the high-priority urban users.
"SunWater is currently releasing water from Leslie Dam to supply irrigation demand,” she said.
"Irrigators were consulted on the timing of the release to ensure there was sufficient demand for a bulk release, to minimise losses.
"SunWater started releasing water on December 9 and expect to finish around January 15.”
Ms O'Connell said Upper Condamine irrigators would have access to the 53% of their announced allocation from the current release, which equates to about 12,000ML.
"It has been a particularly dry season and storage losses (due to evaporation) are higher than average,” she said.
"The recent storm activity produced a small inflow into the system and cooler weather should help minimise losses from the current release.”
Ms O'Connell said unless much-needed rain resulted in inflows to Leslie Dam, water releases for medium- priority customers would stop once Leslie Dam reached 460.35m or 14.1% capacity.
"The current releases are expected to bring the dam to this level,” she said.
"If a significant dam inflow or a stream flow event occurs before the end of the 2016-17 water year, medium- priority customers may have access to their remaining water balance.”