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Drones monitor Darling water quality

State-of-the-art drones and sampling technology have been deployed to monitor water quality following the first release of water into the lower Darling River since mid-December 2015.

Department of Primary Industries Director Water Information and Insights Christobel Ferguson said the release of an estimated 35,000ML of water from the Menindee Lakes was a result of  widespread rain over winter.

“The purpose of this [replenishment flow] will be to provide water for the users on the lower Darling with [water for] irrigation and stock and domestic use, but also to balance the water that's available to ensure we retain enough water for Broken Hill,” she said.

“The NSW Government is doing everything it can to ensure the quality of this precious water and make sure it goes as far as possible to help those landholders who have been doing it tough.

“Approximately 20 of the 80 properties downstream of the Menindee Lakes system have started receiving increased flows with water expected to arrive at Pooncarie from about mid-August.”

Ferguson said drones were being used for the first time to capture water data, which would be utilised to inform both Government and landholders about water conditions.

“We're collecting high-level, high-resolution data that can actually be attached to a geofabric so that we can spatially orientate and analyse that data in detail for years to come,” she said.

“We've put on additional water quality sampling [technology to the drones] to actually monitor the quality of the water as it comes down the river.

“We're also sampling some of the residual pools left in the river to see what impact they are having on the quality of the water as it comes down the river.”

Raw data for several of the parameters tested is being made available to downstream landholders the following day where possible.