Wet and wetter conditions in store for basin

Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Andrew Kremor.

The volume of water in government-owned dams in the Murray-Darling Basin is two-and-a-half times higher than at the same time two years ago.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Andrew Kremor told delegates at the national River Reflections water conference in Mildura on June 1 that the most dramatic turnaround was in the northern basin.

This was particularly the case in Queensland, which saw water in dams increase from 19 per cent to 97 per cent full in the past 24 months.

“This has certainly brought renewed optimism to many in the agriculture sector even though it’s meant some challenges with flooding, infrastructure impairment and difficulties with harvest, planting and crop damage,” Mr Kremor said.

“One important thing to note is that the much-wetter-than-average conditions are not consistent across the whole basin, with rain in the Upper Murray in March to April returning to be around average after being high in the 12 months or so prior.

“However, Upper Murray inflows have remained well above average with averagely-wet catchments.

“Dartmouth Dam inflows back in January were the highest on record.

“Across the whole Murray River system, active storage levels remain well above the long-term average and are likely to remain very high into the coming spring.”

Dr Kremor said the Bureau of Meteorology’s outlook was for above-average rainfall across the Murray-Darling Basin from now until August.

“This means we are in the unusual position of commencing airspace management, or pre-releases, at Hume Dam because it is still at high storage levels coming into winter, with more rain and high inflows likely,” he said.

“Further along the Murray, Lake Victoria is being operated in accordance with the agreed strategy and flows to South Australia will remain unregulated into the new water year.”

Dr Kremor said WaterNSW had moved to flood operations at Menindee Lakes with a marked rise in the volume of water expected to reach the lakes over the coming months.