River Murray flows
Latest news and updates
Flow outlook - 22 September
The flow at the South Australian border is approximately 22 GL/day and is forecast to decrease to approximately 21 GL/day over the coming week depending on river operations.
The current flow at the border comprises the full September Entitlement Flow (4.5 GL/day) plus, water for the environment and interstate trade adjustments while the majority of the flow is Unregulated Flow.
The flow over Lock 1 is approximately 36 GL/day and will decrease to around 25 GL/day over the coming week.
It is important to note that flow forecasts in this advice are based on the information available at the time of preparation. Advice may change as new gauging information becomes available or due to rainfall events or changed operations upstream.
River users located immediately downstream of Locks 1, 2 and 3 should monitor moorings and pumps regularly over the coming days as natural flows reduce and water levels fall rapidly.
Users on the upstream side of the locks should also remain vigilant of possible water level changes while SA Water reinstates weir stop logs.
As natural flows recede, weirs are being reinstated to maintain the normal pool level at each of the locks. Reinstatement works at Lock 4 earlier this week saw the water level fall by 25 cm below normal pool level for one day.
For more information about locks and weirs, visit Weirs and locks | Murray–Darling Basin Authority (mdba.gov.au)
Current water levels are updated daily and can be found at the following link: https://www.waterconnect.sa.go.
SA River Murray flow information
You can keep up to date on SA River Murray flow rates, water levels, barrage operations, navigation issues and construction activities by accessing current and previous issues of the SA River Murray Flow Report. You can also subscribe to receive the Flow Report by email.
The public are encouraged to regularly check the SA Government Recovery websiteand the South Australian State Emergency Service (SES) website, which includes information on current warnings, with near real-time information.
What is the difference between high flows and floods?
What are high flows?
High flows occur when River Murray flows reach 40 gigalitres per day (GL/day) at the South Australian border, with target high flows for environmental benefits being between 40GL/day and 80GL/day (Fig.2). These levels may cause water from the main river channel to flow over riverbanks, into surrounding creeks, lakes, wetlands and floodplains.
What are the effects of high flows?
High flows between 40GL/day and 80GL/day, generate system-wide environmental benefits, including keeping the Murray Mouth open, flushing salt, removing environmental debris, adjusting soil salinity levels, replenishing groundwater storage, creating breeding and feeding opportunities for water-dependant ecosystems, and providing additional water to precious wetlands and floodplains.
What are floods?
Floods can occur when River Murray flows exceed 100 GL/day (Fig.2), resulting in an overflow of water beyond the normal limits of a watercourse, and water extending over what is usually dry land. An example of this is when rivers break their banks and water covers the surrounding land.
What are the effects of floods?
While providing similar environmental benefits as high flows, major flooding such as the 2022-23 River Murray flood event, can cause damage to homes, businesses, and public infrastructure, with a lengthy and costly recovery process for river communities.
High flow advice
In the interests of community safety, the following precautions are recommended:
- Don’t drive, ride or walk through flood-affected causeways or roads.
- Be aware that significant debris is being carried downstream and may pose a hazard to water-based activities.
- When operating a boat on the floodplain or near inundated riverbanks, be aware of submerged obstacles such as trees and fence lines.
- Landholders, especially those with shacks or other structures in low-lying areas, should consider securing their property from likely rising water levels.
- The hazards associated with riverbank collapse still exist in some areas so be aware of the signs - such as cracked riverbanks and leaning trees and keep away from fenced or sign-posted affected areas.
- Regularly monitor river levels in your local area, and take care not to become isolated by rising water.
- Always wear a personal floatation device on the river.
- Do not jump or dive into the river when you do not know what is below the surface.
- Camp on higher ground away from the river bank.
- Supervise children at all times and do not allow them to play in or near fast-flowing river water.
- If in doubt, stay out.
- Listen and take action on any instructions from the emergency services - the SES, SA Police and the CFS.
- Tune to ABC local radio for community safety information.
High flow frequently asked questions
What is a River Murray High Flow Advice?
A High Flow Advice is not a flood warning, but an alert of a higher than average river current. The flow identified in a High Flow Advice is a figure that may occur, and subsequent forecasting will refine the figure.
The purpose of the High Flow Advice is to create raised alertness and monitoring in the community of the danger associated with flows in the River, and prevent unnecessary losses to the community.
Is it safe to go to the River Murray during high flows?
Yes, people are encouraged to enjoy the River Murray, while being aware of the hazards and acting responsibly to stay safe.
During high flows, T River Murray water level is higher than normal, and the flow is also faster. The main river channel may contain debris and other submerged hazards and will be harder to navigate by swimming or boat.
What is at risk of being flooded?
When the flow at the SA border is in the range of 40 to 60 GL/day, there is a small likelihood of extra inundation in the River Murray. The River channel will transport the extra flow through the locks and weirs, which causes a higher river current.
What are the flood warnings for the SA River Murray?
Flood level descriptions are based on flows at the SA-Victoria border as follows.
- Up to 40 GL/day - within the normal range, and no warnings are required.
- Above 40 GL/day - High Flow Advice is issued by DEW.
- Above 60 GL/day - River Murray towns are unaffected and a High Flow Advice remains in place. Low lying areas and floodplains become inundated and a Flood Advice - River Murray Shack Areas between Cadell and Mannum (not towns) is issued by SES.
- From 100 GL/day - a Flood Advice - River Murray is issued by SES.
- From 130 GL/day - a Flood Watch and Act – River Murray is issued by SES.
- From 200 GL/day - a Flood Emergency Warning – River Murray is issued by SES.
- The Bureau of Meteorology also issues flood warning products (warnings, watches, bulletins) complementary to those issued by the SES.
Requests for assistance for on-water incidents or inundation of property should be directed to the SA State Emergency Service (SES) on 132 500. More information can be found on the SES website: https://www.ses.sa.gov.au/home
The Water Data SA website is South Australia’s comprehensive water information portal for real-time data (like salinity, water levels).
Up-to-date River Murray salinity, flow and water level information can also be accessed at the SA Water and Murray-Darling Basin Authority websites:
- River Murray real-time water data
- SA Water River Murray info - levels, flows etc.
- Murray-Darling Basin real-time water data
The Department for Environment and Water has published a series of River Murray inundation maps.
Details of river height and rainfall information in the River Murray within Victoria and New South Wales are available at the Bureau of Meteorology website:
The National Parks and Wildlife website will provide updates on any areas of National Parks that are impacted under a high flow. Visit their Closures and Alerts page to find out more: https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/know-before-you-go/closures-and-alerts