LETTER: Options for farmers’ water allocations

The total amount of water stored in the Murray–Darling Basin’s dams has dropped below the 50 per cent mark, signalling the need for irrigators, industry operators and environmental water managers to continue their close watch on water availability as summer approaches.

In a climate as variable as the Murray–Darling Basin’s, it was normal for water storage levels to fluctuate, which meant business managers, including farmers, needed to take into account the possibility of decreasing water availability when planning ahead.

Across the basin, we have 10,848 gigalitres of water in storage right now, which translates to 49 per cent of capacity. This time last year storages were at 71 per cent.

The last time we had a similar level of water in storage at the start of November was in 2015, when the dams were 44 per cent full. In the course of that season, we saw levels drop to a low of 25 per cent in February before heavy winter and spring rains in the southern basin returned the dams to 82 per cent by the start of November 2016.

With dry conditions expected into summer, we’re anticipating the high demand for water to continue.

The River Murray is now running high as we transfer water downstream to meet orders for irrigation on the way to topping up the levels in Lake Victoria in preparation for high demand over summer.

It is important all water users plan ahead and consider the resources available to them to cope with a range of scenarios.

The water market is available to help people to use their carryover and buy, keep or sell allocations.

Andrew Reynolds,

MDBA head of river operations