Tuesday, March 5, 2024

One of the southern Basin’s wettest years delivers strong water availability: MDBA

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Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), Media Release, 6 March 2023

The southern Murray–Darling Basin tracked some of its highest rainfall and inflow totals on record in the tail end of 2022, according to the MDBA’s update to the 2022-23 Annual Operating Outlook.

The update details how the Murray–Darling Basin Authority may run the River Murray under a range of possible climate and rainfall scenarios, to help water users and river managers with future planning. Normally released before Christmas, the update was delayed until the main River Murray flood peak had passed.

MDBA Executive Director of River Management, Andrew Reynolds, said the report highlighted the widespread rain and flooding that has dominated the 2022 water year.

“The volume of water flowing into the River Murray system in November and December was the largest recorded in 127 years,” Mr Reynolds said.

“This followed record-breaking rainfall in many southern Basin communities, particularly between August and December.

“It is heartening to see the Murray River system positioned to provide strong water availability for communities and the environment well into 2023-24.

“This also means it is unlikely the MDBA will need to draw water from the Menindee Lakes into the Murray system anytime soon.”

Mr Reynolds said parts the Murray were expected to return to regulated conditions in the coming months if conditions remained relatively dry, however, water storages in the Murray River system remained at very high levels for this time of year, with Dartmouth Dam and Hume Dam virtually full and the Menindee Lakes above 100 percent.

“The release of water to manage airspace has already started at Dartmouth Dam, and if reasonable rain persists into autumn, releases from Hume Dam will be required as we approach winter.

“The latest climate outlook issued by the Bureau of Meteorology points to average rainfall across the Basin for February to April 2023, with a possible trend to drier conditions from March to May 2023.”

The River Murray System Annual Operating Outlook is prepared by the MDBA with input from the New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian governments.

The update to the 2022-23 Annual Operating Outlook is available here.

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