Emerald's Fairbairn dam hits 24pc capacity following years of below average rainfall

Ben Harden
By Ben Harden
Updated December 3 2021 - 2:13am, first published December 2 2021 - 9:00pm
SEND IT DOWN HUEY: The Fairbairn Dam is at 24.8pc capacity thanks to recent rainfall in parts of the catchment area over the past fortnight.

Widespread rainfall across the Central Highlands region has seen significant inflows recorded into Fairbairn Dam, near Emerald, following years of historically low levels.

Since November 14, more than 143,645 megalitres of water has flowed into the dam, with capacity rising from 12.83 per cent to 24pc.

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The last time the dam was above 20pc was back in March 2021, however it fell to a historic low of 7.39pc in December 2020.

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Due to the recent inflows into Fairbairn and other storages in the Nogoa Mackenzie Water Supply Scheme, Sunwater announced a 32pc medium priority allocation on December 1.

A spokesperson for Sunwater said inflows into the dam are expected to continue into the next week.

"It is promising to see good rainfall across Central Queensland and Sunwater is pleased some landholders in the region will have received water for their storages," the spokesperson said.

"Importantly, Fairbairn Dam near Emerald, which has been experiencing low levels, has received much-needed inflows. Due to the inflows, announced allocations for the Nogoa Mackenzie Water Supply Scheme were reviewed.

"As a result, the medium priority announced allocation has increased. The current allocations are now: high priority 100pc and medium priority 32pc (previously 0pc).

"We expect the dam's capacity to continue to increase steadily based on observed and current forecast rainfall in the catchment."

Fairbairn Dam storage level as of December 3. Graph: Sunwater

Allocation increase welcomed by local irrigators

Early season rainfall, coupled with extraordinary market prices, has triggered a widespread summer plant across the Central Highlands.

Central Highlands cotton growers and irrigators association president Danni Ingram, Avondale, Emerald, said the recent rain has been a great start to summer for many local farmers.

"It has been a long time since we have started with a 32 per cent allocation before Christmas," Ms Ingram said.

"Receiving a water allocation along with a full profile of moisture this early in the season will allow growers to take advantage of the great cotton prices or to be able to plan for their future crop."

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Ben Harden

Ben Harden

Queensland Country Life Journalist

Based in Rockhampton, Central Queensland. Contact: 0437528907

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