The Great Darling Anabranch

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The Great Darling Anabranch

The Great Darling Anabranch is located in south-west New South Wales. This ancient path of the Darling River extends 460km from its junction with the Darling River (south of Menindee Lakes) to the Murray River, about 20 km west of Wentworth.  It ceased to be the river channel when the river changed its path 11,000 years ago. The Anabranch was an important area for Aboriginal people for about 27,000 years.

Since white settlement in the 1860s, landholders have used the Anabranch for stock and domestic purposes. Following construction of the Menindee Lakes scheme in the 1960’s, an annual replenishment flow was made available from Lake Cawndilla to the landholders along the Anabranch.  This release of 50,000 mega litres each year was released for 100 days until the flow had reached the end of the Anabranch. It was then ponded in 17 weir pools along the Anabranch stream. Anabranch landholders would pump their stock and domestic requirements from these weir pools.

Drought has always demonstrated how tenuous this water supply arrangement was.  In 1993, a Darling Anabranch Management Plan (DAMP) Steering Committee was established to consider options to create a more sustainable future in the region.  Following consideration of a number of options, it was agreed that pipelined water with environmental flows was the best option for all stakeholders.

DAMP proposed construction of a pipeline to provide stock and domestic supplies, as well as some irrigation water, to landholders along the Darling Anabranch. This would secure water access licenses totalling 3,000 mega litres from both the Murray and the Darling Rivers. An entitlement of water would also be made available for an environmental flow for the Anabranch. A number of in-stream structures were to be removed and alternative access points provided. Funding was also required to cover annual operation costs, maintenance and eventual replacement of the pipeline and associated infrastructure.

A study in 2003 concluded that a system comprising of river pumping stations located on the Murray and Darling rivers and some 315 kilometres of main and spur pipelines would be the most viable and sustainable option for provision of stock and domestic water to the 43 properties along the Anabranch.

In 2004 an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Darling Anabranch Stock and Domestic Pipeline was completed along with a design and construct specification for the pipeline scheme. In 2005, funding of $54 million under the The Living Murray was secured to construct the Darling Anabranch Pipeline.

In May 2006, construction started on pumping stations, filtration systems, balance tanks and wastewater systems at the Murray River and Darling Rivers.  These were then connected to a 218km network of delivery pipeline. Along the delivery pipeline are 97km of spur lines with off-takes for 72 consumers.  The pump station on the Murray River was commissioned in December 2006.

An Environmental Flows Committee has been established by the Lower Murray Darling Catchment Management Authority to provide advice on environmental flow requirements for the Anabranch. It is hoped that this will help return the Anabranch to a more natural wet-dry regime to improve the habitat for native plants, fish, animals and birds. This committee also provides advice on the design and establishment of a program of monitoring, evaluation and adaptive management.

Anabranch Water took over the operation and maintenance of the pipeline system in March 2007.  It is proposed that a Deed of Separation will be signed in 2009, and a sinking-fund handed to Anabranch Water. Control and operation of the pipeline will then be the responsibility of Anabranch Water.

The landholders of the Anabranch also petitioned the NSW Governor to create a private irrigation district under the Water Management Act.  The Great Anabranch of the Darling River Private Irrigation and Water Supply District was proclaimed in November 2005.

The Darling Anabranch is located in the south-west of New South Wales.  It extends some 460 km from its junction with the Darling River (south of Menindee Lakes) to the Murray River approximately 20 km downstream of Wentworth.

Following construction of the Menindee Lakes scheme in the 1960’s an annual replenishment flow was made available from Lake Cawndilla to the landholders along the Anabranch.  This release of 50,000ML/annum was released for 100 days, until the flow had reached the end of the Anabranch, then was ponded in 17 weir pools along the Anabranch stream.  Anabranch landholders would then pump their stock and domestic requirements from these weir pools.

The ongoing drought conditions have served to reinforce how tenuous this water supply arrangement was.  Lake Cawndilla has had no capacity to supply a release of water to the Darling Anabranch since 2003.

History of Anabranch Water

The Darling Anabranch Management Plan (DAMP) Steering Committee was established in 1998 to consider options to create a future of economic and environmental sustainability in the region.  Following consideration of a number of options, it was agreed that a pipelined water supply with environmental flows was the best option for all stakeholders.

DAMP proposed:

  • Construction of a pipeline to provide stock and domestic supplies, as well as some irrigation water, to landholders along the Darling Anabranch.
  • Securing Water Access Licences totalling 3,000ML from both the Murray and the Darling Rivers.
  • An entitlement of water made available for an environmental flow for the Darling Anabranch stream.
  • Removal of a number of in-stream structures, and provision of alternative access points.
  • Funding to cover the annual cost of operation, maintenance and eventual replacement of the pipeline and associated infrastructure.

A “desk top” study, commissioned in 2003 concluded that a system comprising of river pumping stations located at both the Murray and Darling rivers and connection by approximately 315 kilometres of main and spur pipelines would be the most viable and sustainable option for provision of stock and domestic water to the 43 properties  that exist along the Darling Anabranch.

In 2004 an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Darling Anabranch Stock and Domestic Pipeline was completed along with a design and construct specification for the pipeline scheme.

In 2005 funding of $54 Million under “The Living Murray” was secured to construct the Darling Anabranch Pipeline.

The Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) was the project proponent for the Darling Anabranch Pipeline and Environmental Flows project (The Project).  The Department of Commerce was contracted by DNR to provide project management and pipeline construction management services.

Mitchell Australasia Pty Ltd commenced construction works in May 2006.  These works included the construction of low lift pumping stations, high life pumping stations, filtration systems, balance tanks and wastewater systems at the Murray River and Darling River.  The above components are connected by 218.6 km of network delivery pipeline.  Along the delivery pipeline are 97.3 km of spur lines with off takes for 72 consumers.

The pump station on the Murray River was commissioned on 18 December 2006, operating at a reduced capacity due to reduced water allocations in the Murray River system.

An adaptively managed environmental flow and removal of instream structures are also part of The Project.  An Environmental Flows Committee has been convened by the Lower Murray Darling Catchment Management Authority (LMDCMA) to provide advice on the environmental flow requirements of the Darling Anabranch.  This Committee will also provide advice in the design and establishment of a program of monitoring, evaluation and adaptive management.

Anabranch Water took over the operation and maintenance of the Pipeline on 1 March 2007 under contract to DECC.  In early 2009, it is proposed that a Deed of Separation will be signed, a sinking fund handed to Anabranch Water and control and operation of The Pipeline will then be the responsibility of Anabranch Water.

The landholders of the Anabranch petitioned the Governor to create a Private Irrigation District under S.143 of the Water Management Act.  The Great Anabranch of the Darling River Private Irrigation and Water Supply District was proclaimed in November 2005.  The inaugural Board comprises:

Keith Forster (Chairman) “Bulpunga” via Wentworth 2648  Phone: 03 50270260
Angus Whyte (Deputy Chairman)  “Wyndham” via Wetnworth 2648  Phone: 03 50270230
Rex Andrews  “Toora” via Wentworth 2648  Phone: 03 50270250
Brendon Duncan “Glen Esk” via Wentworth 2648, Phone: 03 50270224
Paul McPherson “Allanvale” via Wentworth 2648  Phone: 03 50270261, and
Mark Withers “Woodlands” via Wentworth 2648  Phone: 03 50270242

CONTACT US:

Contact Phone Numbers
Operation and Maintenance:  Western Murray Irrigation
03 50274953 during business hours (8am—5pm Monday to Friday), or 0428 596428 AH.
Administration:  WHK (Karen Clark)
03 50212244 (excluding Thursday’s) or  0419224471.

Anabranch Water Website: www.westernmurray.com.au/anabranch/
Pipeline Map: Click here


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