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Sydney's Warragamba Dam levels surge to 62% capacity after torrential rain

The Guardian logo The Guardian 2/10/2020 Naaman Zhou and Australian Associated Press
a white car driving through water: Photograph: Joel Carrett/EPA © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Joel Carrett/EPA

The water level in Sydney’s dams has risen by more than 20 percentage points in one day after torrential rain on Sunday brought the best inflows for nearly three years.

More than 363,681 megalitres flowed into Warragamba Dam alone on Sunday as the dam rose from 43.8% to 61.8% of capacity. Across all of Sydney’s catchments, 512,452 megalitres poured in.

In a statement on Sunday, WaterNSW said that was the equivalent of nine months’ worth of water in less than a week. Spokesman Tony Webber told ABC Radio on Monday that Warragamba’s dam levels “could even get to 70%, with run-off and more rain”.

a white car driving down a street: A car sits in flood water in Sydney on Sunday after a storm caused chaos along the New South Wales coast. Sydney’s dams, including Warragamba, saw the best inflows for nearly three years. © Photograph: Joel Carrett/EPA A car sits in flood water in Sydney on Sunday after a storm caused chaos along the New South Wales coast. Sydney’s dams, including Warragamba, saw the best inflows for nearly three years.

Related: NSW floods and weather: rain eases but chaos continues – live

In Sydney, the 391.66mm of rain over the four days from Friday to Monday was the most since February 1990, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Residents along the New South Wales coast were ordered to evacuate over the weekend as the heavy rain and high winds created flash floods, brought down trees and power lines, and led to more than 10,000 calls to the State Emergency Services.

Across the state, the Woronora Dam rose 25.2 percentage points to 59.6% capacity over the past week; the Avon Dam by 36.1 percentage points to 80.6% capacity; and the Cataract Dam by 41.9 percentage points to 68.1%.

Sydney has been under level two water restrictions since December, when dam levels dipped below 45%.

Related: NSW weather: residents evacuated from flooded areas and thousands left without power

On Sunday, Warragamba Dam had been predicted to rise to up to 55% capacity, but that was surpassed on Monday, as it hit 61.8% by 10am.

Earlier in the year, water authorities placed booms and filters in the dam catchment area to prevent silt and ash from the recent bushfire devastation from washing into the catchment in the event of heavy rain.

Sydney’s dam levels were as high as 96% in April 2017, but slumped as one of the country’s longest droughts hit.

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