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Water allocation and carryover

Water allocations are an important way to share, conserve and manage the restricted volume of water available to South Australia. 

Managing our water responsibly contributes to achieving long-lasting benefits for the River Murray and water users, including primary producers, industry, recreational users and the environment.

Water allocations are critical for all river communities and industries that rely on a healthy river system.

Private carryover may be granted when the minimum opening allocation announced in April is less than 50 per cent. Private carryover allows irrigators to carryover unused water allocations - up to 20 per cent of a user’s entitlement - from one year to the next. It is a form of insurance to boost water availability at the beginning of the next water year.

Water trade allows for the redistribution of water among users and is an important mechanism for managing the Murray-Darling Basin’s scarce water resources.

River Murray water allocation plan

The Water Allocation Plan for the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse was adopted in February 2019. The water allocation plan includes important information about the way we take and use water from the River Murray.

The water allocation plan has been updated to meet Basin Plan obligations, while providing the basis for more timely and transparent allocation information for irrigators. To see the water allocation plan and find out what this means for you, visit the SA Murray-Darling Basin website.

The water allocation plan was prepared with extensive input from irrigation, community and environmental groups. It will ensure that River Murray water users receive sustainable allocations, supporting jobs and regional communities.

The new water allocation plan locks in a commitment to reduce Adelaide's reliance on the River Murray by 50 gigalitres in dry years - in recognition of metropolitan Adelaide's access to other sources of water. Compared to the Millennium Drought, this commitment boosts irrigation allocations by 8 per cent in dry years and applies whenever irrigators are on allocations of less than 100 per cent.

Other than in exceptional circumstances, the 8 per cent benefit for irrigators is expected to be maintained in full until 30 June 2024. The commitment will be implemented in a way that has no impact on prices or water security for SA Water customers.

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