Welcome to the last river ops update for April.
We’ll start by updating you on Easter flows before focussing on how the river’s flowing this week.
Easter flows update
As we had been advising over the past two weeks, river levels in the Murray dropped at Easter.
River flows are naturally low in the Murray at this time of year. In most years, communities benefit from and experience higher river flows as a result of irrigators and water holders having their water delivered.
This year, however, things have been a little different.
Because of the amount of rain that fell through March and April, irrigators and other water holders stopped ordering their water, instead choosing to store their water allocations for later use.
Why does this matter?
Put simply, we can’t send flows down the river unless entitlement holders request it. The water isn’t owned by the MDBA, it’s owned by water entitlement holders – the irrigators, state governments and others.
We manage the river in accordance with an agreement between the NSW, Victorian and SA state governments. We do take recreational activities into account but we are required to maximise water availability for the Basin States and to deliver their water entitlements. The states require us to make sure water is available when water holders call on their water – which means filling the dams when the opportunity arises.
Hume Dam is less than half full at the moment. Letting the water out now could risk the amount of water available in spring and summer.
We’re being very careful because it looks like there could be an El Niño event this year. For Australia, El Niño usually brings below average rainfall. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, about two thirds of El Niño events since 1900 resulted in major drought over large areas of Australia.
Continue reading this week’s river ops update…