Basin collaboration inspires US student


An international student was inspired to work at the MDBA this year to find out how our state and federal governments are working together to fix the health of the Murray–Darling Basin.

This idea of cross-border cooperation over water management was new to Yale student Michelle Camp.

“I wanted to see firsthand the integrated approach taken here. The relationship between the states in Australia is unlike that in America,” Michelle said.

“The main difference between the management of the Colorado River and that of the Murray–Darling Basin is collaboration.”

The Colorado Basin and the Murray–Darling Basin have many things in common—climate, semi-arid terrain, variable rainfall, high agricultural output and millions of people to support. And like the Murray–Darling, the Colorado flows within just one country but across numerous state borders.

Unlike the Murray–Darling Basin though, the Colorado is not run as a single system. It has multiple dams and channels operated independently by the seven states it runs through, whereas Murray–Darling asset management is coordinated by a central agency – the MDBA.

The desire to learn how the MDBA carries out this role spurred Michelle to get in touch.

“I wanted to learn about and contribute to water management at an organisation that is widely considered to be the world leader,” she said.

“Internationally, the management of the Murray–Darling Basin is seen as highly progressive, in that it has the environment as one of its key focuses.”

While at the MDBA Michelle spent time learning about stakeholder engagement, water resource planning and environmental water planning.

Michelle is now back at Yale, working on her Master of Environmental Management thesis. Once she’s earned her degree, she plans to work on sustainable water management for her home state of Texas, guided by the MDBA’s work in the Murray–Darling Basin.

Michelle Camp holding a wombat. Photo: MDBA.

Michelle Camp holding a wombat. Photo: MDBA.

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River Murray Ops update – 24 October

Hello and welcome to this week’s River Ops update.

It happens to be National Water Week – so we hope you’ve charged your glasses!

To celebrate, we introduced a robot to students from different parts of the Basin and took them on a tour at the National Museum of Australia - while the students were still in their classrooms.

Will and robot in full

MDBA’s Will Inveen speaks via a robot to basin students.

The robot gave students an interactive, customised tour of exhibits about the Basin, from the variability of water over 300,000 years, to water quality and its role in where people settle and what they do for work.

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The students’ view through the robot lens.

To find out about future tours email education@mdba.gov.au and visit education@MDBA.

River Operations

The main points this week are

  • system inflows for October are tracking well below average
  • releases from Hume Reservoir increased to meet downstream demands
  • the pulse of environmental water enters the River Murray from the Goulburn.

MDBA total storage decreased by 107 GL this week, with the active storage now 6,254 GL (74% capacity). Inflows to the Murray system so far in October continue to track well below the long-term average (see graph on page six of this report).

At Dartmouth Reservoir, the storage volume decreased 24 GL to 3,575 GL (93% capacity). The release is steady at 5,500 ML/day as water is transferred downstream to Hume Reservoir.

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River Murray Ops Update – 17 October

Welcome to this week’s River Ops update.

Tuppal Food and Fibre Festival

Today kicked off the start of the Tuppal Food and Fibre Festival, 17 – 19 October. If you are visiting the festival the MDBA education team is hosting a stand. Drop by and have a go at some of the fun water activities and tests.

River Operations

MDBA active storage has decreased to 6,354 GL (75% capacity), with a reduction in total storage this week of 67 GL.

At Dartmouth Reservoir, storage has decreased by 21 GL to 3,598 GL (93% capacity). The release at Colemans has been gradually reduced this week to 3,500 ML/day but is forecast to be increased to 5,500 ML/day by the end of day. These bulk transfers of water from Dartmouth aim to ensure there is sufficient water in Hume Reservoir during summer and autumn to meet the demands of downstream users. For more information, see our flow advice.

The storage volume at Hume Reservoir fell by 22 GL to 2,320 GL (77% capacity). Inflows averaged about 11,000 ML/day during the week while releases have now increased to 16,500 ML/day. Releases in the coming week are also expected to average around 16,500 ML/day.

Shevy's photo - near murray mouth sept 2014 Continue reading the update…

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River Murray Ops update – 10 October

 

Welcome to this week’s update. The main things to look out for in the coming week are

  • further rainfall forecast by the Bureau of Meteorology in the south east of the Murray-Darling Basin
  • a rise in the Campaspe River with an environmental flow pulse
  • continued weir pool level variability at Lock 8.

In addition, a significant volume of environmental water is planned to be released from the Goulburn River over the next two months in the form of two pulsed releases – the first in late October and the second in late November, read our latest flow advice.

Merran Creek Wakool looking upstream 2

MDBA total storage decreased by 59 GL this week, with the active storage now 6,411 GL (76% capacity). Continue reading

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River Murray Ops Update – 3 October

Welcome to this week’s River ops update, including information on the Tuppal Food and Fibre Festival and a summary of conditions over the past month.

Tuppal Food and Fibre Festival

The MDBA education team will be hosting a stand at the Tuppal Food and Fibre Festival, 17 – 19 October.

The festival is holding a careers day, Friday 17 and open days on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19. Come and find out about a career in water management or have a go at some of the fun water tests and activities.

September 2014 Summary

September was a relatively dry month across the southern Murray–Darling Basin, with most areas in Victoria and southern NSW recording average or below average rainfall. There was a similar pattern in the northern Basin, which also recorded predominantly average or below average rainfall. Notably, there was generally below average rainfall along almost the entire length of the NSW and Victorian Great Dividing Range – which is typically the source of most inflows into rivers of the Murray–Darling Basin. Across the Basin as a whole, the Bureau of Meteorology has reported area-averaged rain totalling 22.7 mm, which is 33% below the long-term mean and the 38th driest September in 115 years of record.

Based on long-term averages, September typically provides the greatest volume of monthly inflows into the River Murray System. This has not been the case in 2014, with River Murray System inflows (excluding Snowy Scheme, Darling River and managed environmental inflows) for September totalling only 485 GL, which is little more than a quarter of the long-term monthly average for September of 1,610 GL. This follows on from average inflows in July and well below average inflows in August. The Bureau of Meteorology’s outlook for October indicates relatively hot and dry conditions are likely for south-east Australia.

River Operations

MDBA total storage increased by 33 GL this week, with the active storage now 6,462 GL (77% capacity).

At Dartmouth Reservoir, the storage volume decreased 25 GL to 3,646 GL (95% capacity). Higher releases are being made from Dartmouth in order to transfer water to Lake Hume to meet downstream demands in coming months. The release is currently 6,900 ML/day with plans to reduce to around 5,000 ML/day in the coming week.

Bulk water transfers from Dartmouth have contributed to an increase in storage at Hume Reservoir, which has risen 68 GL to 2,344 GL (78% capacity). Releases from Hume were briefly lowered to 5,000 ML/day at Doctors Point during the week as downstream demand reduced following the rain. The release has now been raised back to 13,500 ML/day at Doctors Point as demand gradually returns.

View from Hume Dam. Photo: MDBA.

View from Hume Dam. Photo: MDBA.

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Tracking the elusive bunyip bird

Have you seen a bunyip bird?

A new project, involving satellite technology will allow world-wide access to track Riverina bunyip birds.

The bunyip bird is formally known as an Australasian bittern, and is a globally endangered waterbird. It is said that the eerie booming call of the male bittern during breeding season is the origin of the Australian myth of the bunyip, the mythical creature which, according to legend lives in Australia’s billabongs, waterholes, swamps and riverbeds.

The Bitterns in Rice Project is a collaboration between the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia and Birdlife Australia, supported by a number of agencies. The group is embarking on a new project, Tracking bunyip birds, which will involve satellite tracking of seven Riverina bitterns.

Australasian Bittern Coleambally. Photo: M Herring.

Australasian bittern, Coleambally. Photo: M Herring.

Bittern numbers are so low that it is thought there are only about 2500 of them left in Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. However, there is hope for the species. A large number of bitterns have been discovered in the New South Wales Riverina’s rice crops. Through study, it has been found that the rice crops are the perfect breeding location for these secretive birds. So, now that the birds have been located a new question has arisen, where do they go when the crops are harvested? No one knows for sure.
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River Murray Ops Update – 26 September

Welcome to this week’s River Ops update.

MDBA total storage fell by 16 GL this week, with the active storage now 6,423 GL (76% capacity).

At Dartmouth Reservoir, higher releases are being made to transfer water to Lake Hume in order to meet downstream demands in coming months. If conditions remain dry, transfers of water from Dartmouth to Hume are likely to continue through to autumn. Releases from Dartmouth increased over the past week to 6,400 ML/day, and will target around 7,000 ML/day in the coming week. The storage volume decreased by 17 GL to 3,672 GL (95% capacity).

Inflows to Hume Reservoir averaged 10,700 ML/day this week, increasing the storage by 6 GL to 2,276 GL (76% capacity). Releases increased to 11,400 ML/day, before gradually decreasing to 7,000 ML/day in anticipation of reduced demand due to rainfall forecast on Wednesday 24 September.

At Lake Mulwala, diversions at the major irrigation offtakes reached 2,300 ML/day at Mulwala Canal and 1,500 ML/day at Yarrawonga Main Channel before easing later in the week. The release from Yarrawonga Weir increased from 6,500 ML/day to 10,000 ML/day (around channel capacity) in order to meet downstream demand, including the transfer of water to Lake Victoria.

In the Edward-Wakool system, flow through the Edward and Gulpa offtakes averaged around 1,400 ML/day and 350 ML/day respectively. On the Edward River, the flow downstream of Stevens Weir averaged around 600 ML/day. The Wakool River at Wakool-Barham Road is steady at 440 ML/day.

On the Goulburn River, the flow at McCoys Bridge is currently 1,350 ML/day and forecast to rise to around 3,000 ML/day in the coming week. The flow is currently above the normal minimum due to the delivery of environmental water destined for South Australia. Flows in the Goulburn are being varied for the benefit of local riparian vegetation.

River Murray, SA. Photo: MDBA.

River Murray, SA. Photo: MDBA.

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