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Far west NSW communities alert to rising rivers as graziers welcome 'beneficial' flooding

Friday December 31, 2021 - 05:45 AEDT
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SES volunteers on Menindee Lakes as water reaches minor flood levels. - ABC

As water continues to make its way down the Barwon-Darling rivers, far west New South Wales communities are preparing for flooding.

Tilpa exceeded its minor flood level of nine metres in the early hours of Friday while further north, Louth's level reached 9.24 metres at midday. Wilcannia and Menindee are just below their minor flood levels.

The New South Wales State Emergency Service (SES) latest update for the region has predicted possible moderate flooding in Wilcannia in early February and minor flooding in Menindee early in the new year. 

SES spokesman Nick Aisake said flood warnings were already in place with volunteer teams set up in river communities.

"We have a number of teams from NSW SES, Fire and Rescue NSW and we also have a number of teams from the Queensland fire and emergency services," he said.

"They're here supporting us with flood rescue and also boat operators in the event that a rescue is required."

Menindee boat situation, flood warning for Louth and Tilpa

Menindee's SES unit walked away from the agency earlier this year after voicing concerns about a lack of training and overall support.

Without local volunteers residents can't access SES equipment such as floodboats. One of the town's two SES boats has also been reported stolen. 

"Unfortunately, we have no further update on that and that's now an ongoing police investigation," Mr Aisake said.

He said if more resources were needed in Menindee the agency had a spare state supply of flood boats.

For Louth and Tilpa, he said the SES were expecting major flooding from the second week of January.

"We're urging the community members ... to prepare now. You may be isolated for at least two weeks," he said.

"Have those supplies ready and of course the SES will be there to assist."

Flooding welcomed by graziers

Tilpa grazier Justin McClure said he was looking forward to beneficial flooding coming into the community and their property soon.

"It's been 10 years," he said.

"Really looking forward to having floodwater touch our creeks and hopefully ... get up and over our flood plain," he said.

Julie McClure said that, despite the inconveniences of flooding, there were a lot more positives than negatives.

"I would love to hear the chatter around how much flood plain is being inundated and what good that is going to do for our landscape - the rivers, billabongs, little gilgies, birds, fish, the ecosystem as a whole," she said.

Louth grazier Stuart Le Lievre said it was important people continued to follow SES advice, especially regarding closed roads.

"Not only do people (have to) go looking for them (those who drive on closed roads) and get them out of these situations but then when it does dry up a bit all the roads are cut up and we can't use them to carry on our business," he said.


© ABC 2021

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