Fears a hot dry summer 'could dry out' Wagga's Lake Albert

FLASHBACK: In January 2010, Lake Albert's levels dropped to extremely low levels, resulting in the deaths of thousands of fish, and leaving it unusable by water sports enthusiasts. Council workers had the task of cleaning.
FLASHBACK: In January 2010, Lake Albert's levels dropped to extremely low levels, resulting in the deaths of thousands of fish, and leaving it unusable by water sports enthusiasts. Council workers had the task of cleaning.

There are fears Wagga's Lake Albert could dry out over what is predicted to be a hot, dry summer.

Mick Henderson, the commodore of the Wagga Boat Club, said the lake was currently "unusable".

Mr Henderson estimates the lake is currently about a metre deep.

"I believe it will be dry by the end of summer if we get the hot summer being predicted. It has happened before. All the fish died," he said.

Mr Henderson said the lake had been unusable for the last season and a half.

"We can't host events, so that's money going out of the city," he said. "We won't be able to use the lake going into 2020. It is a big issue."

Mr Henderson is concerned the onset of hot weather could also exacerbate previous problems with blue-green algae in the lake.

"The lake It needs to be drought-proofed. It's frustrating," Mr Henderson said.

"We need to source a supply of water, either from the river or Narrung Street treatment works.

"Everyone always asks the same question: 'How's the lake going?' and I can't give them an answer because I haven't got one."

Nigel Smedley from the Bureau of Meterology at Wagga, said the latest seasonal predictions were for below-average rainfall between October and January.

In September, Wagga recorded just 19.8 millimetres of rain, 29mm down on the long-term average.

So far this year, the city has recorded 314mm of rain, down by 106mm on average.

Mr Smedley said the bureau was predicting a summer of above-average temperatures for almost the whole of Australia.

Wagga mayor Greg Conkey agreed the coming summer was "not looking good for Lake Albert".

"Hopefully what's been put in place for blue-green algae will have some effect in reducing that," Councillor Conkey said.

"But evaporation is a massive issue. It's not looking good if we are going to have a hot summer and there's no rain."

Commodore of the Wagga Boat Club, Mick Henderson, pictured at Lake Albert in March 2018, when blue-green algae was rife.

Commodore of the Wagga Boat Club, Mick Henderson, pictured at Lake Albert in March 2018, when blue-green algae was rife.

Cr Conkey said Wagga City Council has had discussions with the Minister for Water, Melinda Pavey, about a "credit-debit scheme" that would allow council to draw from the Murrumbidgee River - and pipe to Lake Albert - an amount of water equivalent to what went into it from the treatment works.

But, he warned, this was a long-term solution and for now, the lake was "totally dependent" on rain.

According to Wagga City Council, Lake Albert's blue-green algae level currently sits at "surveillance mode", with a low bacterial content.

There are no current restrictions of use due to water quality and council is maintaining regular monitoring. These levels are in line with expectations at this time of year, a spokesperson said.

Monitoring of algae levels will continue as the temperature gets warmer and updates will be posted on council's website.

Council staff are preparing a report on algae levels and the use of ultrasound technology currently being used in a trial at the lake. This report is expected to go to council before the end of the year.

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