The South Australian Government is committed to providing more timely information for River Murray irrigators to better support business planning, particularly during dry conditions.
This includes providing early water allocation and private carryover announcements, as well as tools such as flow reports.
Water markets and trade information has also been developed to support business planning, including water trade dashboards about water allocation and entitlement trading in the South Australian River Murray, which show data on the volume and price of water traded through time.
We recognise the overwhelming majority of South Australia’s water users do the right thing by monitoring and managing their water use within their available allocation, thereby supporting the sustainable use of our state’s water resources.
For the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse, a quarterly accounting period applies. This means compliance action will be taken for any water taken in excess of the allocation available on a water account at the end of each quarter.
While South Australian River Murray water accounts were previously reviewed on an annual basis and a penalty applied for any excess water use, it was still an offence in accordance with the Act and its predecessors, for usage to exceed the available allocation at any time.
The practice of using water before it has been allocated or purchased has the potential to negatively affect other irrigators and water users, including the environment, put at risk South Australia’s compliance with the Basin Plan sustainable diversion limits that came into effect from 1 July 2019 and compromise the delivery of environmental water by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.
South Australian irrigators understand how precious water is and use water very efficiently, while always looking for ways to use less water.
There are a number of irrigation industry programs under way to support irrigators to use water even more efficiently, such as the Water Efficiency Program, and research to help the industry to diversify into areas that use less water.
Rainfall, inflows and temperatures are highly variable across the Murray-Darling Basin. The last three years have been predominately dry. But, as we also saw during the Millennium Drought, conditions can change quickly.
Allocations have reached 100 percent for 2020-21. However, this does not provide any certainty that conditions in 2021-22 will also result in full allocations.
PIRSA continues to lead our state’s drought response, working with industry, the Australian and local governments, other agencies and support services to help farm families, farm businesses and rural communities prepare for and manage challenging conditions.