Goverment of South Australia May 2016
River Murray Update

River Murray water allocations reflect dry conditions


The River Murray is the heart of our regional communities, from the SA border all the way downstream to the Murray Mouth. This includes Goolwa, the Lower Lakes, Murray Bridge, Mannum, Morgan, Waikerie, Berri, Renmark and every community in between.

Most of the rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin can be considered 'working rivers' where water is captured, extracted or diverted to support communities, agriculture and other industries. Water is also provided to the environment to ensure a healthy, working river, both for now and for the future.

The competing demands for the water resources of the River Murray means that it's important to consider all water users when making water allocations during periods of reduced water availability.

Continued dry conditions and low inflows across the Murray-Darling Basin mean that South Australian River Murray water access entitlement holders will receive a minimum opening allocation of 36% for the 2016-17 water year.

Should the water resource availability improve from the current very dry conditions across the Murray-Darling Basin, then the improvements will translate to increased water allocations until they reach 100%.

Sustained, well above average rainfall will be required over winter and spring to significantly change the outlook in the first half of the water year.

Future allocation announcements for 2016-17 will also be informed by the findings of the independent Adelaide Desalination Plant cost benefit study, which is due to be provided to the State Government in mid-2016.

Entitlement holders will find out their actual opening allocations by 30 June 2016.


Private Carryover


Private carryover will be granted to eligible water users in 2016-17, in addition to the 36 per cent minimum opening water allocation.


Private carryover was introduced to help SA River Murray water users manage their water risk during dry times. It allows eligible water users to carry over unused water from one year to the following year - up to a maximum of 20 per cent of their water allocation entitlement.


Eligible water users must submit their water meter reading to DEWNR by 31 July 2016 to qualify for private carryover.

Those that don’t have a water meter may still may be eligible for carryover – but they must still contact DEWNR by 31 July 2016.

For more information on water allocations and private carryover read our Frequently Asked Questions, or visit the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources website.


Climate Outlook


With extremely dry catchments across the Upper River Murray system, well above average rainfall will be required to replenish soil moisture, create runoff and improve inflows to Murray-Darling Basin storages.


Across the Basin as a whole, the Bureau of Meteorology has reported that April 2016 was the 22nd driest April observed during the past 117 years of record.

Australia's weather is influenced by many climate drivers, but El Niño and La Niña events have perhaps the strongest influence on year-to-year climate variability in Australia. They are associated with a sustained period (many months) of warming (El Niño) or cooling (La Niña) in the central and eastern tropical Pacific.

The Bureau of Meteorology has released its Climate and Water Outlook May - July 2016 (published 28 April 2016).

It suggests that the 2015–16 El Niño is in its last stages. El Niño years tend to see warmer-than-average temperatures across most of southern Australia, and Australian rainfall is usually reduced through winter–spring, particularly across the eastern and northern parts of the continent.

Following the El Niño, the outlook indicates there is an approximate 50% chance of a La Nina event in 2016.  La Niña is often, but not always, associated with above-average winter-spring rainfall over northern, central and eastern Australia.

For further information on climate, visit the Bureau of Meteorology, read the MDBA’s weekly reports, or download the SA Government's weekly Flow Report.


Back the Basin Plan


The forecast of dry conditions for 2016-17 highlights the importance of ensuring that the commitments we secured in the Basin Plan are delivered on time and in full.


Water recovered to date under the Basin Plan will be critical for ensuring that, as far as possible, objectives around the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth can be addressed, noting that the Basin Plan is yet to be fully implemented.

Dredging will continue in the Murray Mouth until consistent and large volumes of unregulated flows are received, which will provide a scouring effect at the mouth.

The South Australian Government is working hard to ensure that the Basin Plan is implemented successfully so all of its objectives are realised, including the $1.55 billion Commonwealth commitment to recover an extra 450 GL by 2024 secured during the ‘Fight for the Murray’.

While conditions remain dry and the outlook is still serious, the outcomes being achieved under the Basin Plan should give the community confidence that we will not see a repeat of the extreme ecological damage experienced during the Millennium Drought.

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