As the West Kimberley suffers through one of its dryest Januaries on record, the East Kimberley has copped a deluge that has seen Water Corporation close Pannikin Bay as the Ord Dam spills over. This decision comes amidst concerns for public safety due to fast-flowing and turbulent waters in the area. Water Corp North West manager Sharon Broad said the dam’s levels rose rapidly in the days leading up to the overflow, with the first spill occurring on January 23. Ms Broad highlighted the significant volume of water being discharged from the bay, emphasizing the potential dangers posed by the swift flow. “72 hours before the spillway overflowed, we were still about one meter below full supply,” she said. “When you consider the enormous size of the lake, that is a lot of water over a very short period of time.” Ms Broad also noted the unusual timing of the overflow, attributing it partially to elevated water levels in 2023 and an extended overflow period from February to July of that year. Comparatively, the lowest recorded level this season was 1.6 meters below full supply in early January 2024, a significant difference from the 5.9 meters below full supply recorded in the 2022/23 wet season. The East Kimberley has experienced a wet start to the year, with 445.7mm of rain being recorded at the Lake Argyle monitoring station in January, beaten only by Truscott (490.4mm) and Kalumburu (555.6mm). The totals stand in stark contrast to the West Kimberley, where Broome has experienced just 20mm — 10 per cent of the median January rainfall of 200mm — during the same period, and Derby just 11.8mm. The Ord Dam’s current level stands at 92.83 meters Australian Height Datum (AHD), with water flowing approximately 0.6 meters over the spillway and being discharged at a rate of 110,000 litres per second. To put this into perspective, the dam holds over 21 times the volume of water in Sydney Harbour when at full capacity. Amidst these conditions, the Water Corporation urges individuals navigating the Ord River during periods of increased rainfall or those with pumping equipment near the river to take precautionary measures. This includes ensuring adequate fuel supplies for boats due to increased flow conditions.