Water Week

EWN Publishing

“Serious” says PM: NSW, Vic, and SA argue over dregs of Murray Darling Basin

Posted by waterweek on 21 September 2007

“The 2007-08 water availability outlook for the southern Basin system is serious and has deteriorated through August”, says the Murray-Darling Basin Dry Inflow Contingency Planning Overview Report to First Ministers, September 2007.

The emergency plan: Under the water sharing arrangements, once water availability reaches around 2200 GL, a transition back to water sharing arrangements under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement will commence, although special accounting water provisions of the Agreement are likely to still be in operation. Water sharing arrangements as set out in the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement will fully resume when total water availability reaches around 3000 GL.

Less water than last year: Due to severely depleted storages at the beginning of the 2007-08 water year there is significantly less water in Murray System storages now than there was at this time in 2006. If inflows continue to be below average the reserves held in Murray System storages at the beginning of 2008-09 will be much the same as the low levels at the beginning of 2007-08, and possibly less. The likelihood that sufficient rain will fall over spring to relieve significant rainfall deficiencies is low. The modelled outlook to November 2007 does not show a strong trend to either above average or below average rainfall across the southern Basin system.

Emergency water sharing: At 27 August 2007 water availability was at 1500 GL (about 1250 GL above critical demand). This water is being shared under the water sharing arrangements agreed by First Ministers on 20 June 2007. Under the water sharing arrangements (at 27 August 2007);

• NSW was entitled to 195 GL;

• Victoria was entitled to 490 GL for consumptive use;

• 13 GL for environmental use was held equally by NSW and Victoria;

• South Australia was entitled to 262 GL for consumptive use, plus 225 GL for dilution flow and 333 GL to cover losses.

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