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Key Water Blog

2019/2020 Season Outlook – 15th March 2019

15th March

 

Murrumbidgee

Although next year’s (2019-20) high priority commitments are not yet fully assured, inflows to
satisfy them would normally arrive over autumn and winter.

• This preliminary outlook is a repeat of the information provided in the 15 February 2019
statement.
• As the NSW caretaker period has commenced in the lead-up to the NSW election,
additional detail on the preliminary outlook will be released after the caretaker period has
ceased.
• This preliminary outlook for 1 July 2019 Murrumbidgee water availability is conservatively
based on assumed extreme dry (99th percentile) inflow conditions for the remainder of this
water year, and all of 2019-20.
• For context, the Murrumbidgee valley has experienced between ‘very dry’ and ‘extreme
dry’ (96th percentile) July to February inflows this year. Only four out of 100 years in the
historical record have experienced drier conditions.
• This forecast information is not guaranteed and should be used at one’s own risk. It can
be expected to become more reliable as the forecast period reduces.
• Although extreme dry conditions are assumed to continue, heavy rainfall and significant
inflows can occur at any time, and allocations will be promptly adjusted accordingly.
• In the Murrumbidgee water source, general security and conveyance licences can carry
over water up to a maximum of 30 per cent of entitlement, and the account limit
(allocation plus carryover) is 100 per cent of entitlement.
• It is difficult to reliably predict end-of-year carryover, as it is highly dependent on weather
conditions over the next few months and individual decisions by water users.
• Access to inter-valley trade in 2019-20 is dependent on the balance of the IVT account.
The 30 June balance will carry forward unchanged to 1 July 2019.
• BoM’s rainfall forecast indicates possibly drier and likely warmer than average conditions
over the next three months from April to June.
• Once the commencing allocations are announced on 1 July 2019, regular assessments
will be undertaken and allocation announcements made fortnightly on the 1st and 15th of
each month, or next working day following, until full allocations are achieved.

Indicative allocations on 1 July 2019
• Full (100 per cent) allocation can be expected for towns, domestic and stock access
licences, and sub-category high security entitlements.
• Supplementary (including Lowbidgee) access licence holders will receive a full allocation;
however diversion is only allowed during periods of announced supplementary access.
• Private carryover will be fully deliverable. At this early stage, it is estimated that the
average carryover across the valley will be close to five per cent of entitlement.
• Murrumbidgee high security access licences will receive an initial allocation of 95 per cent
of entitlement, consistent with the Murrumbidgee regulated river water sharing plan.
• For 1 July, some reduced allocation to conveyance entitlements is possible in the unlikely
event that a shortfall emerges from extreme dry conditions. Conditions are being closely
monitored and updates will be provided.
• There will be no commencing general security allocation for 2019-20 under extreme dry
inflow conditions.
• Revised outlooks will be provided monthly, and should become more reliable as the
forecast period reduces.
• Water in Environmental Water Allowances (EWA) accounts will be available and accrue
in accordance with the rules of the water sharing plan.
• Murrumbidgee inter and intra valley trade will operate in accordance with existing
procedures, particularly in relation to the inter-valley trade (IVT) account limits.
• Releases from headwater storages will be managed to maximise water availability and deliverability including equalising the risk of spill from headwater storages

 

NSW Murray 

• This preliminary outlook is a repeat of the information provided in the 15 February 2019
statement.
• As the NSW caretaker period has commenced in the lead-up to the NSW election,
additional detail on the preliminary outlook will be released after the caretaker period has
ceased.
• This preliminary outlook for 1 July 2019 water availability is conservatively based on
assumed very dry (90th percentile) inflow scenario for the remainder of the water year,
and extreme dry (99th percentile) conditions for all of 2019-20.
• The forecast information is not guaranteed and should be used at one’s own risk. It can
be expected to become more reliable as the forecast period reduces.
• The River Murray system has experienced very dry conditions this water year, with
inflows tracking around the 90th percentile for much of the year. However Victorian
tributary inflows have been about three times greater by volume this year than NSW,
meaning NSW inflows have tracked drier than the 90th percentile and Victorian inflows
wetter.
• It is noted that Snowy Hydro’s assessment of potential reduced inflow conditions across
the scheme for 2019-20 is having a bearing on the Murray resource availability outlook.
• BoM’s rainfall forecast indicates that over the next three months from April to June,
warmer than average conditions are very likely, and drier conditions are likely for parts of
the upper and mid Murray.Although very dry conditions are assumed to continue, heavy
rainfall and significant inflows can occur at any time, and allocations will be promptly
adjusted accordingly.
• It is difficult to reliably predict end-of-year carryover, as it is highly dependent on weather conditions over the next few months and individual decisions by water users                                                                                                                      • Storage in Hume and Dartmouth dams combined is about 1,700,000 megalitres (ML)
lower than this time last year.
• As usual, the Barmah Choke trade balance will be re-set on 1 July and reflect the volume
of annual Snowy Savings above the choke that will not need to be delivered downstream.
• Once the commencing allocations are announced on 1 July 2019, regular assessments
will be undertaken and allocation announcements made fortnightly on the 1st and 15th of
each month, or next working day following, until full allocations are achieved.

Indicative allocations on 1 July 2019 – Lower Darling
• The Menindee Lakes System (MLS) is critically low, currently holding about 24,500 ML
(1.4 per cent capacity) and is in the highest, Stage 4, drought criticality. In the absence of
significant inflows, surface water supplies will be managed adaptively to ensure that any
remaining available water is prioritised for critical purposes.
• Allocations will be made to ensure town, domestic, stock and high security access
licences held by those allowed to take water, have enough account balance to ensure
continued use of water while access to surface water supplies remain. However a full
(100 per cent) allocation on 1 July is not assured.
• Opening general security allocation will be zero (0) per cent of entitlement in the Lower
Darling unless there is significant recovery in the Menindee system. Carryover water will
remain in accounts and trade within the Lower Darling water source will be allowed.
Lower Darling inter-valley trade can resume once the system recovers above 640 GL.
• Current restrictions on water usage in the Lower Darling will remain in place until
sufficient recovery of the Menindee Lakes system occurs.
• The Wentworth to Broken Hill pipeline is expected to be commissioned and fully
supplying Broken Hill’s water supply needs by the start of next water year. Therefore
allocations for the licence will be governed by NSW Murray town water supply allocation.

Indicative allocations on 1 July 2019 – NSW Murray
• Full (100 per cent) allocation can be expected for towns, domestic and stock access
licences, and sub-category high security entitlements.
• Full allocations for supplementary access licence holders, which is available subject to
announced periods of supplementary flows.
• It is intended at this stage that high security (97 per cent) and carryover commitments will
be met on 1 July and that general security allocations will be low or zero. An initial
shortfall of water may impact Conveyance entitlements.
• In the unlikely event that critically low inflows are experienced into winter, there will be a
significant shortfall challenge. Conditions are being closely monitored and more detail on
potential management decisions about high security allocation shortfall and restricted
access to carryover will be provided in outlook updates, if that scenario appears to firm.
• Water will be set aside for environmental requirements in accordance with the rules of the
NSW Murray and Lower Darling regulated rivers water sharing plan.
• Payback of the borrowed Barmah Millewa EWA volume will need to commence when general security allocations reach 30% of entitlement

 

12th March

 

Lachlan

 The remaining monthly Water Allocation Statements for this water year will provide
estimates of carryover deliverability in 2019-20. The aim is to assist water users with
their end of year water management decisions and upcoming water year planning.
 Forecast conditions are indicative only and not guaranteed. Forecasts should be used
with caution and can change, particularly when they project many months ahead.
 The resource assessment process is based on the worst period of low inflows prior to the
water sharing plan commencing in 2004. This excludes the Millennium drought, which
contained the lowest Lachlan inflows on record. Therefore there is an inherent small risk
in adopting the second worst drought for water allocations.
 The system continues to experience very low inflows, only slightly above pre-2004
minimums since the last general security allocation in August 2017. The planning horizon
for historical minimum inflows assumes a recovery in the system will occur this winter but
this is statistically based and not necessarily reality – not guaranteed.
 If such a winter recovery does not eventuate, minimum inflows relied upon to underpin
existing general security water in accounts will have been insufficient, meaning
restrictions will be required in 2019-20 (drought stage 3).
 Although allocations are based on the second worst drought historically in the Lachlan,
planning and managing for drought is done on the worst case scenario.
 As part of drought contingency measures, preliminary estimates of carryover
deliverability under various inflow scenarios have been provided in the table below.
 Conditions are being closely monitored and forecasts can expect to become more
reliable as the forecast period reduces.
Estimated deliverability of carryover under various inflow scenarios


 Potential general security allocations in 2019-20, based on a repeat of historical inflows,
are provided in the table below as estimated chances of improvement.
 These are indicative improvements only and are not guaranteed allocations. Estimates
may change based on weather variability, water management decisions and other events. This means water users should use this information with caution and at their own
risk, as it projects many months ahead.

 

Macquarie 

Under a continuation of the worst-case scenario of little rain and zero dam inflows, it is likely
that allocations for higher security entitlements such as Local Water Utility, Stock and
Domestic, and High security will be less than 100 per cent on 1 July 2019. The temporary
water restriction currently limiting general security and EWA access to only 70 per cent of
their 1 July 2018 account volumes will likely continue into 2019-20.

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