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No rain drops, so Chifley dam drops

THE hot, dry spell Bathurst is experiencing is rapidly taking chunks out of the city’s water supply.

Figures released by Bathurst Regional Council for Ben Chifley Dam at The Lagoon shows it sitting at 78.3 per cent.

It’s a far cry from the start of summer when it was just about at capacity.

Since then there has been scattered rain in the region, which has resulted in local farmers starting to address water shortage issues and a major change in the local countryside from emerald green to a parched, straw-like picture.

Western Advocate Rural Notebook columnist John Seaman said there had been some storm activity.

“But unfortunately it’s been all over the place and that includes the vast catchment area that Chifley Dam has, stretching all the way back up the Campbell’s River and its feeder creeks to Black Springs.

“It’s a massive area and covers some 960 square kilometres. Now that’s a big area of country that is typically renowned for its rainfall. For it to miss out on a lot of the storm activity is very rare and what falls it has received haven’t been sufficient to get the run-off you need to make it back to the dam.”

Mr Seaman said he’s had reports in recent weeks of storms, but they have varied from 110 millimetres to nothing in other places.

“It’s unpredictable,” he said. “I’ve even got an old friend at Palmers Oakey in the high country north of Bathurst who says he is starting to have water problems. That’s nearly unheard of out this way and is typical of the situation at present.”

Mr Seaman said Chifley Dam couldn’t be located in a better spot to pick up any decent rainfall.

“There’s not a better catchment area going around,” he said. “While we need the rain, there’s no talk of hand feeding yet and at this stage everyone is hoping for an autumn break (rain).

“At this time last year we got just about the best autumn break ever with 100mm one day, 40mm a few days later, another 40mm and on it went. We’d love to see that happen again.”

Ben Chifley Dam is capable of holding 30.8 million litres of water.

The supply was effectively doubled when the dam wall was raised in 2000, ironically on the eve of a decade-long drought described as the worst in living memory.

Despite the drought, Bathurst Regional Council did not have to enforce water restrictions for residents.

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