Water delivery takes a dive

By Country News

Water delivered across Goulburn-Murray Water’s footprint has fallen by almost a fifth this season, down more than 248Gl on 2017-18.

And while the irrigation season in northern Victoria may only have closed last week, resource managers on both sides of the border are pointing to low allocations next year.

According to G-MW figures the Murray Valley experienced the biggest change from the previous season, with water deliveries dropping by 62.6Gl.

It was a similar change in Torrumbarry which saw 61Gl less delivered.

The regulated diverters and pumped districts were the only two categories that registered an increase, with just an additional 230Ml and 1314Ml respectively delivered this year.

Central Goulburn received the highest volume, with 267Gl delivered; Rochester and Loddon Valley both received about 140Gl; and Shepparton saw 116Gl delivered.

G-MW managing director Charmaine Quick said it was a tough season.

‘‘This last season has certainly had its challenges. Our customers and our communities all share concerns with continuing dry conditions and we hope winter will bring respite — replenishing our storages and easing pressure on water prices,’’ she said.

Ongoing dry conditions have seen resource managers on both sides of the Victoria/NSW border release cautious outlooks for the start of the irrigation season later this year.

The news is grimmest for those in NSW Murray who have already suffered through one season of zero general security allocation.

The NSW Department of Industry has backed up the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s prediction earlier this year, pointing to a likelihood of zero allocation at the start of the NSW irrigation season.

Although forecasting under a range of climate scenarios — extremely dry, very dry, dry and average — all point to NSW Murray opening with zero general security allocation, with only a dry and average outlook leading to allocation of six per cent by and 30 per cent respectively by November 1.

‘‘Historically, droughts have a higher likelihood of breaking in the winter/spring seasons than any other season, and therefore there is a possibility that the current drought may break or ease in the coming months,’’ the water allocation statement reads.

In northern Victoria, resource manager Mark Bailey said 2019-20 seasonal determinations against high-reliability water shares would depend on flows received into the major storages.

‘‘Without increased storage volumes, the opening seasonal determinations announced on July 1, 2019, are likely to be quite low,’’ Dr Bailey said.