DIMINISHING water levels in Lake Keepit have sparked concern for a local stakeholder despite recent steps taken to top up the levels by WaterNSW.
Lake Keepit Sailing Club member Ian Pine said WaterNSW had released “a lot of water out of Lake Keepit recently” and too much was being used in the “wrong places”.
“From what I have been told, the water is being pumped out of the Namoi River after it has been let out of Lake Keepit and it is heading straight for the mines,” Mr Pine said.
“To me that is a cause for concern and, in my opinion, they are not maintaining Lake Keepit at all.”
Last week, WaterNSW began a transfer of almost 35 gigalitres of water downstream from Split Rock Dam to Lake Keepit to maintain supply to the Lower Namoi.
The decision to transfer the water came after predictions water levels in Lake Keepit and Split Rock Dam could fall to as a low as 2 per cent and 5 per cent by the end of the year.
A WaterNSW spokesperson said all mining companies were only using the amount of water they were entitled to.
“WaterNSW delivers water to customer groups holding a legal entitlement to a water allocation, including industry, irrigators, landholders and the environment, under the NSW government’s rules framework,” the spokesperson said.
“Like all customers, mining enterprises can only access the volume of water for which they hold a legal entitlement.
“WaterNSW has been working closely with water users in the Upper and Lower Namoi to manage supply, and our drought management plan and the co-operation of customers has enabled us to extend supply under arguably the state’s most severe drought conditions.”
Mr Pine said he would like to see WaterNSW allow less water to be used at coal mines.
“I just think given the current drought conditions we are facing, the water could be better used elsewhere,” he said.
“To me it doesn’t seem right to let the mines take so much water.”