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Dartmouth locals rejoice at visitor boom as hundreds prepare to watch local dam spill

Dartmouth locals say they are seeing hundreds of visitors at the moment as travellers flock to watch the local dam spill.

The last time it spilled was in October 1996, and there are high hopes that the event will occur sometime this week.

The dam was sitting at 99.2 per cent at midday on Monday, with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) predicting a 95 per cent chance of rain in the community on Thursday and Friday.  

In the lead-up to a potential spill this week, local publican Aaron Scales said he was seeing "absolutely fantastic" trade.

"There's hundreds of people coming up every day. We did well over 200 meals yesterday," he said.

"There's people just coming up to have a look at the dam and just the excitement around is amazing."

Dartmouth Dam almost at spill level(Supplied: Dartmouth Pub)

Keeping a close eye on forecasts

The Murray Darling Basin Authority says the timing of the dam's spill depends on how much rain falls in the coming days and weeks, and how much water can be released from the dam to create airspace.

Its senior director of river management Joe Davis says they are keeping a close eye on BoM forecasts.

"Based on the Bureau of Meteorology's current forecast for some rain later this week, the Dartmouth Dam storage level is expected to approach but not reach the spillway this coming weekend," he said.

"However, if rainfall is significantly higher than forecast there is potential for some flows over the spillway."

He said releases from the dam were about 7,650 megalitres as of midday on Monday, and that inflows were currently near 6,000 megalitres per day and slowly easing.

'Twenty times what it normally is'

Local post office manager Lorrae Smyth spoke of how the town was probably seeing about 500 people coming in each day, and that it would probably see thousands once the dam spilled. 

She says the town is incredibly busy.

"It's like 20 times what it normally is," she said.

"For lunches on the weekend you'd probably be doing 20, and we're [now] doing like 200.

"It's just phenomenal. And it hasn't actually gone over the wall yet. Once it does I do believe it'll be a lot busier." 

With large numbers of visitors arriving in the town, the local progress association, angling club and CFA started a sausage sizzle fundraiser last week to help feed the growing numbers. 

Ms Smyth, who was involved with all three groups, said they served about 150 people at the local CFA shed over the weekend. 

"We knew that the pub was pretty busy, and they were a bit worried they weren't going to cope," she said.

"We thought we could do some quick takeaway food for people and raise some money for the three community groups."

Community benefits

Ms Smyth said they raised just under $1,400 for the three community groups over the weekend.

She said the funds were a welcome development after a difficult period due to COVID.

"The last couple of years we haven't been able to do much of anything. Any fundraising, we haven't been able to do," she said.

"Now, having it (the dam) go over and having this little bit of extra income has been fantastic for everyone."

She said they were hoping to use the funds on a number of community projects including a fuel pipe for the town and a shower block for when bushfires occur. 

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