Environment SA News

Early projections for River Murray allocations released

The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) has advised irrigators that under a worst-case scenario, irrigation allocations for 2019-20 could start as low as 14 percent. 

South Australian irrigators have been advised that under a worst-case scenario, irrigation allocations could open at only 14 percent for the 2019-20 water year.

DEW River Murray Water Operations Manager Jarrod Eaton said initial projections are based on current storage volumes and projected inflow conditions across the River Murray system.

“The minimum allocation projections reflect the extremely dry conditions across the Murray-Darling Basin this year,” Mr Eaton said.

“The minimum allocation presents what is expected to be a ‘worst-case’ scenario for irrigators − allowing them to plan for the worst while we all continue to hope for significant improvements.

“It’s important to remember that this is based on an early projection only. This projection is based on an outlook that assumes conditions across the remainder of 2018-19 will continue to be extremely dry.

“There remains a very high chance of improved water allocations as the main inflow season starts.”

“For example, if conditions across the remainder of the current water year track closer to the long-term average, then the projected opening for 2019-20 would be just over 20 percent.”

“Despite the very low projected opening allocation, significant improvements across 2019-20 are likely. Most inflows to the River Murray system historically occur between July and November, so the main inflow season is yet to arrive.

“The Bureau of Meteorology’s outlook across the Murray-Darling Basin shows there is no strong indication either way towards a wetter or drier than average three months ahead. Regular water allocation updates will be provided and reflect any improved water availability.”

All projections above include an extra 50 gigalitres to holders of irrigation licences – in recognition of Adelaide’s access to other sources, including desalination. Compared to the Millennium Drought, this boosts opening irrigation allocations by 8 percent.

Under the rules in the Water Allocation Plan, irrigators will be allowed to carry over un-used allocations from the current year into 2019-20.

While allocation water can also be bought for carryover purposes, the total volume of carryover is limited to 20 percent of an irrigator’s entitlement volume.

Further details about allocations and projected water availability for 2019-20 in South Australia can be found in the River Murray Water Allocation Statement.

At this stage, an updated announcement on the minimum opening allocation will be provided by mid-May 2019.

Individuals may only carry over unused volumes up to 20 percent of the volume of Class 3 water access entitlements they hold. The total volume received as allocations against Class 3 entitlements and carryover in 2019-20 cannot exceed 100 percent of the volume of entitlements held.

The Private Carryover policy is outlined in the Water Allocation Plan for the South Australian River Murray.

Visit the Water allocations and announcements page for more information about these projections.