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Murrumbidgee River flood: Wagga MP Joe McGirr calls for better dam management

Wagga Wagga MP Joe McGirr addresses NSW Parliament on August 9 and calls for better dam management after large outflows of water contributed to major flooding along the Murrumbidgee River. Partial transcript: Once again the people of North Wagga, as well as many other landowners in my electorate, have to face the crisis of flooding. Last Friday afternoon there were flood and evacuation warnings seemingly from nowhere. Many outside the levee banks in Wagga Wagga had to leave their properties. Many other residents, especially at North Wagga within the limited levee banks now there, are still anxiously watching the river levels and waiting to see if and when they will have to evacuate. For many farmers and landowners it has meant long and frustrating hours of work moving stock and preparing their properties. I say "once again" because this has become a distressing pattern of events. Dam levels are managed to ensure a supply of water for irrigators and the environment. Repeatedly we are told that this supply is the priority, yet there is a price to be paid for this. Dam levels are kept high, which means that at any time a sudden weather event can fill catchments and cause the dams to spill. I understand the need for water for farmers and the environment further down the river, but there is a question of balance and another of priority. With the rain this year we have been closely watching the levels of Burrinjuck and Blowering dams, which feed the Tumut and Murrumbidgee rivers. This year we have had the added problem of Snowy Hydro discharging water into Blowering to provide extra power because of issues with the electricity supply. In a year of rain and more rain, many people in my electorate are asking: Did we have to have this flooding event? And what is going to happen for the rest of the year?
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