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Published: 07 November 2018   •   Media release

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and energy company Meridian Energy Australia will trial varying water release patterns from Hume Dam to increase power supplies and grid stability this summer.

MDBA Executive Director of River Management, Andrew Reynolds, said the requirement to operate Hume Dam to maximise the volume of water available to communities, irrigators and environmental water holders was not affected by the trial.

"The trial is designed to achieve multiple benefits through careful and planned operations—conserving water for entitlement holders and maintaining the river environment in line with our business as usual while also improving electricity generation," Mr Reynolds said.

"While river levels will vary most noticeably immediately below Hume Dam, they will remain within the current range of variability and will dissipate by the time the flow reaches Albury. We're releasing the same amount of water over each day just at different times.

"With current conditions being so dry it's important to note the trial will not impact on water availability for entitlement holders downstream of Hume.

"The trial operates within current river operating rules and has been designed in conjunction with Meridian who seek to provide extra network support over summer.

"We are taking a conservative approach to the trial this season by starting with a regular scheduled release pattern that will vary water releases at Hume Dam from 2pm to 8pm, on weekdays.

"Releases will be closely monitored throughout the summer to ensure that there are no adverse impacts on native fish or bank erosion rates."

Powershop and Meridian Energy Australia CEO, Ed McManus, said the trial was a real step forward for the energy industry in Australia.  

"By releasing more water at times of the day with peak electricity demand we will make better use of the Hume Dam to generate electricity when it is most needed, with no impact to downstream water users," Mr McManus said.

"We believe that the learnings we are gaining at this site might be transferable to other projects. 

"More electricity supply at peak times has the potential to lower wholesale prices.

"As the operator of a retail business we are acutely aware of the importance of lower energy costs for all our customers."

Mr Reynolds urged people to remember that conditions could change rapidly along the river; particularly close to a hydro station. For the safety of all river users people should ensure they obey signs and follow any instructions.

For information on how the MDBA runs the River Murray visit the MDBA website.

Fast facts:

  • The Murray–Darling Basin covers one million square kilometres – that's four times the size of New Zealand.
  • The Murray–Darling Basin accounts for about 14 per cent of Australia's land mass and produces about 40 per cent of our food and fibre.
  • 2.6 million people live in the Murray–Darling Basin and more than 3 million rely on it for drinking water.

ENDS

Contact Meridian media at sarah@ofcharacter.com or 0488 015 423

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