Trifecta delivers a more positive outlook on River Murray

The outlook for the 2020-21 year is looking more positive compared to last year according to the MDBA’s Annual Operating Outlook released today.

Each year the MDBA releases an Annual Operating Outlook that explains how the MDBA may operate the River Murray system across a range of possible climate and rainfall scenarios to assist water users and river managers to plan ahead.

MDBA Executive Director of River Management, Andrew Reynolds, said the full range of scenarios from extreme dry to very wet have been considered, but river managers are cautiously optimistic that 2020-21 will be a better year than 2019-2020.

The outlook is better than the same time last year because we’ve got the trifecta we’ve been waiting for-catchments are primed after the wet autumn, we’ve got more water in storage compared to the same time last year and the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting higher than average spring rainfall,” Mr Reynolds said.

As of 22 July 2020, Southern Basin storages are at 51 percent compared to 40 percent at the same time last year.

“We’re still a way off filling the storages, but the critical mid-Murray storage at Lake Victoria is close to capacity, thanks to good winter flows from the tributaries downstream of Hume Dam. This means less of the supply to South Australia will need to come from the Hume as it’s sitting there in Lake Victoria now, ready to go.

“While we hope for good rain, as river managers we need to plan for a range of conditions-nobody knows for sure what the weather will bring. If conditions revert to a drier scenario, we need to be ready for it, so we continue to operate the system as effectively and efficiently as possible.

“The river is a dynamic environment so planning ahead helps river operators to identify and manage risks to river operations and water supply. That includes the on-going risk of a delivery shortfall, where demand outstrips our ability to move water through the system. This year the Outlook considers the shortfall risk to be greatest in late summer and autumn under ‘moderate’ or ‘near-average’ rainfall scenarios, due to the Barmah Choke, intervalley trade constraints and other limitations on the system’s capacity to meet the anticipated demand for water.”

The River Murray System Annual Operating Outlook is prepared by the MDBA with input from the Australian Government and the New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian governments. An update will be published at the end of October 2020 following the normal winter-spring inflow period when we will have a clearer picture of water availability.

The 2020-2021 Outlook is available on the MDBA website.

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