Murray-Darling Basin dams, catchments nearly full

Water flowing into South Australia has hit a six-year high at 53 gigalitres a day, as a report reveals full storage and wet conditions across the Murray-Darling Basin.

Water flowing into South Australia has hit a six-year high at 53 gigalitres a day. A report has revealed full storage and wet conditions across the Murray-Darling Basin.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s (MDBA) Murray River annual outlook, released yesterday, showed southern basin storages are at unusually high levels for this time of year, with the Hume Dam sitting at 95 per cent capacity.

The Dartmouth Dam has recorded 97 per cent capacity. The Menindee Lakes are at 115 per cent capacity and Lake Victoria is at 62 per cent.

The MDBA said the storage had been bolstered by healthy flows entering the Murray River from the Murrumbidgee, Goulburn rivers, and other Victorian tributaries.

“The primary purpose of both the Dartmouth and Hume Dams is to store water to meet irrigation and other entitlements. That’s our focus,” MDBA executive director of river management Andrew Reynolds said.

He said irrigators and environmental water entitlement holders were in a good position to receive full entitlements this season. The MDBA was set up to manage the risk of shortfalls.

“If we get a sudden hot period of weather and a spike in demands, it can be a bit harder for us to manage, but we’ll work closely with the Bureau of Meteorology to adapt to the season ahead,” he said.

Caution urged for river users

At the South Australian border, Murray River flows have reached 53 gigalitres of water daily for the first time in six years. It has prompted one river council with low-lying areas to issue a formal warning.

Mid Murray Mayor Dave Burgess said river users and property owners in the district are encouraged to be wary of faster currents, higher water levels and submerged debris.

“We don’t expect to reach flood risk levels. However, based on current forecasts, we’re encouraging property owners and residents to take precautions just in case,” he said.

When flows reach above 60GL a day at the SA-Victoria border, low-lying areas and flood plains become inundated. Flood advice is issued to shack areas between Cadell and Mannum.

Even bigger flows into Murray-Darling Basin on the way

Heavy rains in the upper parts of the Murray and Murrumbidgee catchment last weekend totalled 150 millimetres in some areas. As a result, South Australia’s flow levels are yet to peak.

The MDBA has commenced airspace management releases from the Dartmouth and Hume Dams and big releases from Burrinjuck Dam in the Murrumbidgee system.

Department for Environment and Water manager of water delivery Chrissie Bloss said peak flows were still four to six weeks away.

“It’s too early to forecast what those peaks might look like. We know flows will be high for some months in the Riverland,” she said.

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