Projections for the next water year’s minimum opening water allocation for the South Australian River Murray have risen to 22 per cent, in information released by the Department for Environment and Water today.
Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said that the improvement is better news for South Australian River Murray water entitlement holders.
“In our opening projection announcement last month we said that a ‘worst-case’ scenario was 14 per cent allocations which was in line with our election commitment to give farmers more information to plan ahead,” said Minister Speirs.
“With recent rainfall occurring in the catchment we can now give confidence to irrigators that opening allocations will be at least 22 per cent with further increases highly likely.
“The expert advice given to me suggests that as the main inflow season arrives in the coming months we should see significant improvements in water allocations.”
Department for Environment and Water River Murray Water Operations Manager Jarrod Eaton said that the change to the minimum opening allocation is based on advice from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and reflects recent rainfall and updated water availability conditions.
“There has been some recent rainfall and improved inflows in the upper River Murray storages, which is a positive turnaround compared to the dry and warm conditions observed in recent months,” said Mr Eaton.
“Despite the minimum 22 per cent opening allocation, significant improvements across 2019-20 remain likely. Most inflows to the River Murray system historically occur between July and November, so the main rainfall and inflow season is yet to arrive.
“The Bureau of Meteorology’s outlook across the Murray-Darling Basin shows there is no strong indication either way towards a wetter or drier than average three months ahead.
“We will continue to provide regular water allocation updates and reflect any improved water availability. Additionally, the water availability projections have also been updated to reflect today’s announcement.”
Two drop-in sessions will be held in Loxton and Murray Bridge next week to provide information and advice to irrigators to help prepare for the 2019-20 water use year.
They will involve Department staff and will cover the current water resources outlook, the private carryover policy, water allocation projections and water licensing matters.
Other service providers, including water brokers and counsellors, are being invited to provide further support and answer questions from irrigators and other community members.
Allocations are determined in accordance with the South Australian River Murray Water Allocation Plan.
Water availability projections have been prepared as a tool to help irrigators and other water users better understand the likelihood of future improvements in water allocations.
The allocation projections are based on current River Murray storage volumes and operational conditions across the Murray Darling Basin and historical rainfall and temperature data.
Further details about allocations and projected water availability for 2019-20 in South Australia can be found in the River Murray Water Allocation Statement.
At this stage, an updated announcement on the minimum opening allocation will be provided by mid-June 2019.
Under the rules in the Water Allocation Plan, irrigators will be allowed to carry over un-used allocations from the current year into 2019-20. While allocation water can also be bought for carryover purposes, the total volume of carryover is limited to 20 percent of an irrigator’s entitlement volume.
The total volume received as allocations against Class 3 entitlements and carryover in 2019-20 cannot exceed 100 percent of the volume of entitlements held.
The Private Carryover policy is outlined in the Water Allocation Plan for the South Australian River Murray.
For more information about these projections, members of the community can visit the Department for Environment and Water’s website.