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Emergency measures for dry, hot Murray Darling: no irrigation water, maybe no town or stock water, either – crisis conditions extend, levels lower than 1957

Posted by gmarkets on 10 October, 2007

August and September were particularly dry across most of the Murray-Darling Basin. Rainfall (July-September) over much of the Basin continued below average or very much below average, with patches of lowest on record in northern NSW.


Inflows very low: Inflows over August and September have receded towards record low levels of 2006 System storages are around 1200 GL lower than this time last year The prospect of substantial increases over the remainder of the season is poor given the majority of inflows are usually received during winter and early spring. No water: “Water is scarce throughout the Basin, with low or zero irrigation allocations widespread. “the impact of this severe water shortage on irrigators and their communities is likely to be substantial”,

Emergency measures: River Murray operations were focused on conserving as much water as possible. This includes keeping as much as possible in upstream storages, and making use of weir pools, such as Yarrawonga and Torrumbarry to supply downstream demands Storages were 1200 GL lower than this time last year.

Rainfall and Streamflow: In July the southern half of the Basin received average to above average rainfall, while the northern half of the Basin was below average. However in August the situation changed with most of the Basin receiving below average rainfall except for some regions in the northeast, and these dry conditionson tinued into September. August there were some good falls of rain in the far northeast of the Basin and this has resulted in some small inflows to the Darling River. This flow is travelling very slowly downstream, but is unlikely to result in significant inflows to Menindee Lakes.

Storages: At September 30, the total volume of water stored in River Murray System storages was 2130 GL (23 per cent ), which is the lowest for this time of year since 1957, before the construction of Dartmouth Reservoir and Menindee Lakes storage, and the expansion of Hume Dam. At this time last year storage totalled 3350 GL.

MDBC Total Storage (MDBC)

• Storage volumes in Dartmouth Reservoir (currently at 17 per cent capacity) and

• Hume Reservoir (29 per cent capacity) are rising slowly, but are forecast to drop as consumptive demand increases over summer.

• Lake Victoria was 78 per cent full and has begun gradually falling as it is drawn upon to supplement South Australian flow requirements.
MDBC will provide further drought updates in coming months. Additional information is available at and from the relevant Australian and State Government Agencies.


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