Sheep and goat farmer Wayne Smith was a toddler when the Darling River at Menindee flooded the family's Karoola Station in 1976.
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He'd like to look at the old photographs but for Mr Smith and 20 other livestock, orchard, and cropping farmers whose properties run along an estimated 120 kilometres of the river bank, they're now keeping a close eye on current conditions.
The Smiths' vast 60,000 hectares Karoola Station was among the properties downstream Darling River, between the Menindee and Pooncarie townships, NSW premier Dominic Perrottet and emergency services minister Steph Cooke saw during a helicopter tour on Saturday.
"We appreciate the premier coming out here and minister Cooke she's been here a few times ... Unfortunately, a few of us could not meet him but others did because we needed him to know about having a water gauge at Talyawalka Creek and Wetherell," Mr Smith, president of the NSW Farmers Association's Menindee branch said.
"There had been dozens of meetings about water losses in the Menindee Lakes systems. We've had a drought, a plague, and floods so we've gone through extreme weather conditions.
"Other farmers south of the townships are not directly affected than those along the river, but many pastoral farms are affected, including people's homes and sheds.
"This is like a new generation of flood if we try and figure it out from our history ... It comes as a surprise to us when from 35,000 gigalitres daily we are having 75,000 gigalitres of water inflow into the river. We don't want to be kept in the dark."
Mr Smith said farmers are not complaining about having so much water from the current flood because "having water is a huge benefit to farmers than a hazard" but there are downsides such as replacing damages to farming infrastructure such as homes, sheds, and fencing.
"I guess that's what farming gives you, some money to make and some expenses to lose ...But some farming properties have been lost during the drought so there is a benefit versus being dry.
"We are also weighing up the cost of many fences going underwater and the benefit of having more stock feed growing in the paddock if there is rain."
Mr Smith said their branch had proposed the installation of additional water gauges because the gauge at Wilcannia is 150 kilometres away which makes it impossible for farmers downstream of Menindee to prepare ahead for the abrupt weather changes that have been occurring.
At the river bank running along his farm, the inflow from the Darling River had risen by 60 centimetres since before Christmas affecting more than 6,000 hectares of pasture and they had been moving livestock away from the flooded parts to keep them safe.
"It's a substantial rise from upstream. It's a big area to move sheep and goats, and we are about 20 farmers along the river," Mr Smith said.
The Daily Liberal has learned that Mr Perrottet and Ms Cooke have met farmers, residents, and members of the Indigenous community after their aerial tours of the flooded properties.
The residents raised their concerns and Mr Perrottet and Ms Cooke had assured them the state government would assist them "to recovery in the long term, build back, and become resilient when responding to natural disasters".
The premier was also briefed by the State Emergency Services regional operations assistant commissioner Sean Kearns on the rising floodwater inflow to potentially break the 10.4 metres 1976 flood level which would cause more evacuations in low-lying areas of Menindee.
The floodwater is expected to peak 10.7 metres as inflow into the river and Menindee Lakes system comes from the Darling and Murray rivers and residents need to head advice to evacuate for safety, Mr Kearns told residents.
The premier was also briefed by Barwon MP Roy Butler that unsealed roads along the townships bordering the Darling River and Menindee Lakes area would need repairs.
Mr Smith said they also proposed to meet with agriculture minister Dugald Saunders who has visited Broken Hill and Bourke but has yet to meet the farmers in Menindee, Ivanhoe and Wentworth townships which are affected by the flood.
"There are big issues out here, and we're all affected when so much water is going down the river system, it's creating islands for livestock," Mr Smith said.
"They shouldn't be handballing the issue to SES and the Bureau of Meteorology who are maintaining the water gauge stations. We shouldn't be making errors."
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