Topics > River Murray > Water allocation

How water is allocated

We allocate River Murray water to South Australian entitlement holders according to the rules in the River Murray Water Allocation Plan.

Our factsheet on Allocating water from the River Murray explains how it works.

What happens in low water years?

To help you plan for a dry water year, we make announcements about potential water allocations from April onwards, using probability scenarios and the likelihood of allocations improving. The diagram below outlines the general timeline of allocation announcements.

How water is allocated

In dry years, South Australia does not receive its annual Murray-Darling Basin Agreement Entitlement of 1,850 GL; instead, we receive a third share of available River Murray water.

In extremely dry conditions:

  • 2 per cent of South Australia’s Dilution and Loss Entitlement may be used to make an initial allocation to Class 3 (High Security) (irrigation) and Class 8 (environmental land management allocations) entitlement holders. This is to ensure access for critical human water needs (stock, domestic or industrial) from irrigation systems.
  • The initial volume of critical human water for metropolitan Adelaide is now limited to 100 GL to allow earlier allocations to irrigators and other water users. Other water sources are available to metropolitan Adelaide, including local reservoirs, the Adelaide Desalination Plant and water set aside in Basin Storages for critical human water needs. This frees up 50 GL to provide up to an 8 per cent increase in allocations. 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 is implemented in a way that has no impact on prices or water security for SA Water customers.

View this video to learn more about River Murray Water Sharing and Allocation Processes.

Water resource availability

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority provides monthly updates on the water resources conditions across the Basin, including:

  • recent inflows to the Basin
  • volume of water available in Murray-Darling Basin controlled storages
  • Bureau of Meteorology’s three-month weather outlook.

For more information about River Murray operations and water resource conditions please refer to the weekly River Murray Flow Reports.