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ord dam
The Ord Dam overflows after a period of heavy rain.


Water Corporation has closed Pannikin Bay as the Ord Dam overflows following heavy rainfall in the East Kimberley. 


North West Regional Manager Sharon Broad said the dam had seen a fast rise in levels in the days prior to the first overflow on 23 January, and large volumes of water were discharging from the bay.


“72 hours before the spillway overflowed, we were still about one meter below full supply. When you consider the enormous size of the lake, that is a lot of water over a very short period of time,” Ms Broad said.


“Large volumes of water going over the spillway can be fast-flowing and turbulent, making the area quite dangerous. 


“It’s important the public heed the clear warning signs that are in place and not put themselves at risk by entering the area.”


Ms Broad said it was unusually early in the season for the spillway to overflow. This is partially due to the high water levels in 2023 and an overflow spanning from February until July. The lake’s lowest recorded level this season was 1.6 metres below full supply in early January 2024. In the 2022/23 wet season the lowest it reached was 5.9m below full supply.


The Ord Dam level is currently 92.83m Australian Height Datum (AHD), flowing at approximately 0.6 metres over the spillway and discharging water at a rate of 110,000 litres per second. At capacity, the dam holds more than 21 times the amount of water in Sydney Harbour. 


If you are required to navigate the Ord River during periods of increased rainfall or have pumping or other ancillary equipment near the river, please consider the risks and take preventative measures. This includes ensuring you have adequate fuel supplies on board, as boats will use more fuel in the increased flow conditions.