The latest updates from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority

The River Murray in August 2015

Posted on September 4, 2015 by Beatrix - MDBA

In the first weekly report of each month, our river operators look back at the month that came before so here’s our rundown on the River Murray in August 2015.

Interested also in our look back on the 2014-15 water year? See our blog post.

Looking for detailed rainfall, inflows, storage and operations for the river week ending 2 September 2015? Have a read of our weekly report.

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River Murray operations 26 August-2 September

Posted on September 4, 2015 by Beatrix - MDBA

Welcome to our weekly report of river operations on the Murray including rainfall, inflows and operations for the river week ending 2 September.

In this weekly report, our river operators have also done a summary of River Murray conditions in August 2015 (see separate post).

Rainfall and inflows

Rainfall persisted over both the south-eastern and far northern Murray–Darling Basin this week as a complex low pressure system lingered off south-eastern Australia. Late in the week, a new system began moving into South Australia from the west.

Weekly rainfall totals were generally modest and were highest over the south-eastern slopes and ranges, and along the central Queensland divide. The western basin was fairly dry.

Stream flows in the upper Murray tributaries increased somewhat through the first half of the week before receding. See the full weekly report for figures.

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Life flowing back into the Basin

Posted on September 4, 2015 by Sarah - MDBA

Environmental watering is not a new concept, and many Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) have already observed its benefits on the health of Basin ecosystems.

Over a ten-year period, Malcolm Thompson (Mallee CMA) has seen the ongoing importance of delivering much-needed flows to key areas in the Mallee catchment.

‘We’ve been doing this for many years now, so the call for environmental watering under the Plan is just strengthening what we already do.’

‘When we turn the water on and it reaches the surrounding lagoons and wetlands, the forest comes alive virtually overnight.’

‘It changes from being a still, quiet place to a vibrant, water-filled system that is alive and thriving.’

Observational success in the Mallee catchment indicates that environmental watering is of great benefit for all kinds of plant and animal life that is unique to the Basin.

‘The next morning after we’ve pumped the water, when it goes right across the flood plains, I can hear the frogs almost two kilometres away calling out to each other. The minute you add water, everything springs to life.’

Left, a very dry Lake Kramen in September 2014 and right, swans return to the lake following environmental watering. Photos: Mallee CMA.

Left, a very dry Lake Kramen in September 2014 and right, swans return to the lake following environmental watering. Photos: Mallee CMA.

Malcolm has lived and worked in the region for most of his life and, while some have concerns with environmental watering, he hasn’t met a local farmer who doesn’t acknowledge the importance of the Murray River.

‘When we tell them we are watering the forest to make it healthier and improve the health of the river and the surrounding land running through their farmland — it doesn’t matter what they are farming — they all want good quality water.’

The Basin-wide environmental watering strategy spells out what outcomes we want for Basin environments — for healthy river flows, plants, birds and native fish.

‘All kinds of fish and aquatic life, as well as bird life, will be benefited. We have to continue to pump water into the forests to keep them going, and for the overall health of the Murray.’

Read more about the Basin-wide environmental watering strategy.


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The River Murray in June 2015

Posted on September 3, 2015 by Eleanor - MDBA

In the first weekly report of each month, our river operators look back at the month that came before so here’s our rundown on the River Murray in June 2015.

Looking for detailed rainfall, inflows, storage and operations for the river week ending 1 July 2015? Have a read of our full weekly report.

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Keeping in touch: engagement 16-30 Aug 2015

Posted on September 3, 2015 by Eleanor - MDBA

Welcome to the first of our fortnightly updates on how we’re engaging with people across the #MDBasin and beyond.

These updates will be published every other week and give you a rundown of two weeks of activity.

As feedback filters through into our work, we’ll add to this info.

Collecting real world info and responding

In all but one of the river reaches, state agencies are now developing detailed business cases for how we could improve constraints in the river system to get more out of environmental water.

We’ll continue to work on the remaining river reach (the Murray between Hume and Yarrawonga) on behalf of governments.

Our staff joined NSW for six meetings on the Murrumbidgee over the last couple of weeks to investigate the effects of different types of river flows with landholders.

Feedback about the potential effects of higher flows are being logged and used for state business cases.

Locals suggested talking to other landholders and we’ll be following up those recommendations alongside NSW representatives.

Staff also joined NSW to meet with landholders in Swan Hill along the lower Yarrawonga to Wakool reach and joined Victoria for meetings in eight towns along the Goulburn (see our facebook for  some photos).

These conversations give states the local info they need when they’re putting together their business cases.

Those cases will be considered by basin ministers mid-next year. Read the latest on this work, feedback from communities, and significant changes made as a result.

Using local knowledge to shape our approach

The Basin Plan includes an opportunity next year to change settings for the northern basin.

To give the best advice to ministers, we’ve been doing hydrological modelling and scientific and social and economic work to build our knowledge of this unique part of the basin.

We’ve appreciated recent convos with stakeholders in the Macquarie, Gwydir and Border Rivers regions which are shaping our approach. Including talks with Water NSW customer service committees and irrigators.

More about our ongoing travel through the north in the next edition.

Helping people use our work on the ground

Three successful pilots of our new indigenous tool to measure and prioritise the health of waterways were held in Deniliquin, Walgett and the Victorian alps last year.

In the last two weeks, we’ve been working with traditional owners and governments in the ACT and South Australia to help them use the tool and contribute to water planning and management in the basin.

We also held one of our regular meetings with three peak indigenous organisations–the Northern Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance, the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations and the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations.

Keeping in touch

We’ve chosen to focus on some big ticket topics above but here’s some other stuff we’ve been up to:

  • Education video-conferenced with Finley High School about their investigation into the health of a local waterway and talked tools of the trade with Victorian geography teachers.
  • The social and economic team sat down with the Riverina RDA.
  • Water trade went to Agquip, the country’s largest field day, in Gunnedah and joined thousands of experts from around the world to workshop water markets challenges at World Water Week in Stockholm.
  • We met with a range of environmental, government and industry stakeholders from state government officials; to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder; and the National Irrigators Council, NSW Irrigators and their member organisations.
  • Our executive also sat down with our Authority, advisory committees made up of basin community members and northern basin experts, basin ministers, and up and coming leaders from the Loddon Mallee.

Our thanks to all involved and let us know if you have any suggestions about how we can improve these updates.


Posted in Communities, General
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The MDBA corporate plan – what we do

Posted on September 2, 2015 by Beatrix - MDBA

What does the next four years of work look like for the MDBA?

We’ve just released our corporate plan that sets out what we’ll be concentrating on, in collaboration with governments, communities, industry groups and researchers.

So what’s guiding us on the road ahead?

See the full corporate plan for a more detailed description of our strategic goals.

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River Murray operations 19-26 August

Posted on August 28, 2015 by Beatrix - MDBA

Welcome to our weekly report of river operations on the Murray.

River operations

MDBA total storage increased by 43 GL this week. Active storage is now 4,315 GL (51% capacity).

The storage volume in Dartmouth Reservoir decreased by 36 GL to 2,671GL (69% capacity) and the release, measured at Colemans, averaged 7,400 ML/day. A reduction in the release is planned to begin during the coming week, with a flow rate of 5,000 ML/day anticipated by early September.

Hume Reservoir storage increased by 53 GL this week and is now 1,370 GL (46% capacity). Inflows have averaged around 16,000 ML/day. Releases from Hume Dam have been targeting a flow rate at Doctors Point between 9,000 and 10,000 ML/day in recent days. Higher releases are expected during the coming week.

The level in Lake Mulwala varied only a small amount this week and remained just over 124.7 m AHD. Diversions at the major irrigation off-takes have also remained fairly steady, with just a small increase toward week’s end. The current total diversion is about 1,200 ML/day. The flow downstream of Yarrawonga Weir was reduced from 12,500 to 12,000 ML/day. Higher releases are expected in the coming days with a release above 14,000 ML/day likely by the end of August.

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