‘Very wet’ or ‘extremely wet’ scenarios unlikely, MDBA report says

By Country News

Two consecutive dry years along, with the Bureau of Meteorology’s most recent three-month climate outlook for below-average rainfall, means ‘very wet’ or ‘extremely wet’ scenarios are unlikely to eventuate in 2019-20.

That’s according to Murray-Darling Basin Authority executive director of river management Andrew Reynolds, who was speaking about the release of the 2019-20 Annual Operating Outlook for the River Murray.

The outlook outlines a range of scenarios from ‘extreme dry’ to ‘wet’ that are expected in the year ahead and provides insights into how these scenarios affect operation of the Murray River.

‘‘Last year (2018-19) was the eighth driest year on record in the Murray-Darling Basin and the year prior (2017-18) was the 13th driest year,’’ Mr Reynolds said.

‘‘Winter and spring are typically when storages receive most of their rainfall and while July has been promising we’re a long way from the inflows we need to see to fill storages.

‘‘We’re starting this water year with well below-average storage levels in the Murray and with the crippling drought in the north of the basin there’s no ability to access water from the Menindee Lakes system for River Murray entitlement holders.

‘‘There’s a long way to go this water year before we have any level of certainly about what next year might look like.’’

Mr Reynolds said the outlook gave water users an insight into the possible operating scenarios for the year ahead.

‘‘Each year we plan for a range of inflow scenarios and while we all hope for good rain we need to make sure we’re operating the system as effectively and efficiently as possible given the range of ways the year could pan out,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re also always looking to manage the ongoing risk of a delivery shortfall, where demand could outstrip our ability to move water through the system.’’

The outlook is prepared by the MDBA with input from the Australian Government and the basin states of NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

■The 2019-2020 River Murray System Annual Operating Outlook can be viewed at: www.mdba.gov.au/publications/mdba-reports/river-murray-system-annual-operating-plan