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Key Water Blog

2020 – 2021 Opening Water Allocations

NSW

Regulated Rivers

Lower Darling
 The Menindee Lakes System (MLS) is currently holding around 480 gigalitres (GL) or 28% full.
It has been rising in recent weeks but is near its peak as upstream the rivers return to baseflow
conditions. This time last year the lakes were holding just 16 GL (less than 1% full).
 The MLS is under NSW control and is being used to meet Lower Darling requirements only. It
will remain in NSW control until it rises past 640 GL, at which point it will become a shared
Murray resource in accordance with the Murray Darling Basin Agreement.
 While in NSW control, trade to and from the Lower Darling remains closed. This is to provide
longevity to the NSW drought reserve and protect the rights of Lower Darling water users.
Trade within the Lower Darling water source is permitted.
 All high priority entitlements have received a full allocation including all local water utility,
domestic, stock and high security licences, in accordance with the water sharing plan.
 General security entitlements have received an opening allocation of 30% based on
improvements since the last allocation announcement. Further resource improvements are
required to increase general security allocations. Carryover is fully available.
 Comprehensive water allocation statements will commence on 15 July 2020.
 The valley is in Stage 2 (recovering) drought criticality.


NSW Murray
 Combined storage volume in the major River Murray storages is around 3,460 gigalitres (GL) or
around 42% full, which is similar to the total storage volume at this time last year.
 All high priority entitlements have received a full opening allocation in accordance with the
water sharing plan. This includes all local water utility, domestic, stock, high security licences
and specific purpose access licences (critical conveyance).
 Carryover is fully available, some 360 GL, or about 21% of general security entitlement on
average.
 Conveyance licences have received their full opening allocation of 50% of entitlement.
 A resource shortfall this year has been limited to the Wakool System Allowance, some 50 GL,
and will need to be filled as a priority from the first of further expected resource improvements.
 General security water users received no new allocation. Water has been borrowed from
Wakool system requirements to help meet the high security, conveyance and carryover
commitments. Once restored, further resource improvements can be allocated to general
security water users concurrently with the need to provide for high priority commitments in
2021-22, in accordance with the water sharing plan.
 The NSW Barmah-Millewa Allowance, around 300 GL, is fully borrowed. Payback will
commence when general security allocation reaches 30% of entitlement.
 Trade downstream across the Barmah choke opened on 1 July but will close when the opening
trade balance is exhausted. It will then only re-open to the extent of upstream (back) trades.
 Comprehensive water allocation statements will commence on 15 July 2020.
 The valley is in Stage 2 (recovering) drought criticality.


Murrumbidgee River
 Combined storage volume in the major Murrumbidgee dams is around 1,320 gigalitres (GL) or
approximately 50% full, which is about 250 GL higher than the total volume this time last year.
 All high priority entitlements have received full opening allocations as per the valley’s water
sharing plan. This includes all local water utility, domestic, stock and high security licences.
Water Allocation Statement
NSW Regulated River Water Sources
Web: industry.nsw.gov.au/water NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment | INT20/75956 | 3
 General security users have received an opening allocation of 10%, based on the latest
resource assessment. The next assessment will be reported in mid-July.
 Carryover is fully available, estimated to be about 340 GL or 18% of general security
entitlement on average.
 Conveyance entitlements have received full opening allocations as per the water sharing plan.
 Future resource improvements will accrue to general security allocations and will commence
the build for high priority categories in 2021-22, in accordance with the water sharing plan.
 Intervalley trade is subject to the Murrumbidgee IVT account balance, which is currently
showing that trade out of the valley is allowed, but trade into the valley is closed.
 Comprehensive water allocation statements will commence on 15 July 2020.
 The valley is in Stage 1 (normal operations) drought criticality.


Lachlan River
 Wyangala Dam is holding 198 GL (16%). The dam held 335 GL (27%) at this time last year.
 All licence categories, except high security and general security, have received full allocations.
 High security users have received a 70% allocation and there is a commensurate allocation for
conveyance entitlements.
 No new allocation to general security water users is possible.
 The restriction on accessing 43% of the 1 July 2019 general security account balance remains.
 In addition a further 50% restriction is now in force for 2020-21 on the active general security
account balance as at 30 June 2020.
 The first resource improvements able to be allocated to these entitlements will accrue to easing
this latter restriction and high security allocation together, and then to easing the earlier
(2019/20) restriction.
 Until the restrictions are lifted, no new allocation to general security water users is possible.
 The restrictions are necessary to ensure all critical needs are secure for 2020-21.
 The next water allocation statement will be on 10 August 2020.
 The valley is in Stage 3 (severe) drought criticality.
 If winter/spring inflows fail, the system will move into Stage 4 drought criticality.

Macquarie and Cudgegong Rivers
 Burrendong Dam (Macquarie) is currently holding 264 GL (22%). Last year it reached a low of
approximately 94 GL or just over 5% full.
 Windamere Dam is holding 99 GL (27%). It was holding 120 GL (33%) this time last year.
 The system continues to experience the worst ever drought inflows to Burrendong Dam. Just
31% of the previous worst drought inflow has arrived in storage over the last 32 months.  All licence categories, except general security, have received a full allocation.
 No new allocation to general security water users is possible.
 General security water users on the Macquarie River below Burrendong Dam are now allowed
to access 40% of their 1 July 2019 account balance. These users were fully restricted during
the outgoing water year. There are no restrictions on access to water in accounts for
Cudgegong water users.
 Water held in the Environmental Water Allowance is available in full.
 Trade of account water is permitted, however; water subject to restriction remains restricted.
 The above measures ensure water for all critical needs is secure this (2020-21) water year.
 The next water allocation statement will be on 12 August 2020.
 The Macquarie is in Stage 3 (severe) drought criticality and the Cudgegong Stage 2.


Namoi River
 Split Rock Dam is holding 18 GL (5%) and held around 6 GL (3%) this time last year.
 Keepit Dam is holding 61 GL (14%) and but reached a low of about 10 GL (1%) last year.
 All licence categories, except high and general security, have received a full allocation.
 High security licences have received a 90% opening allocation.
 No new allocation to general security water users in the Upper or Lower Namoi is possible.
 Restrictions on accessing general security account water have been lifted.
 Delivery of account water will depend on drought operational constraints and tributary inflows.
 The next water allocation statement will be on the first week of August 2020.
 The Lower Namoi is in Stage 3 (severe) drought criticality and the Upper Namoi stage 2

Gwydir River
 Copeton Dam is holding 178 GL (13%) and held about 120 GL (10%) at this time last year.
 All licence categories, except general security, have received a full allocation.
 No new allocation to general security water users is possible at this time.
 General security and environmental contingency allowance account balances operate
continuously from one year to the next. Allocations are made as inflows surplus to higher
priority needs are captured and regulated.
 Delivery of account water will depend on drought operational measures and tributary inflows.  The next water allocation statement will be on 7 August 2020.
 The valley is in Stage 2 (recovering) drought criticality.
NSW Border Rivers
 Pindari Dam is holding 39 GL (13%). The dam was holding 17 GL (5%) this time last year.
 All licence categories, except general security, have received full allocations.
 General Security A class has received a 7.3% allocation.
 No allocation to General Security B class is possible until A class receives a full (100%)
allocation, in accordance with the water sharing plan.
 There are no temporary water restrictions, but low storage levels mean deliverability of account
water is challenging and depends on drought operational measures and tributary inflows.
 The valley is in Stage 3 (severe) drought criticality.
Co

For all NSW Regulated Rivers click here

NSW Groundwater

Upper Namoi Zone 3, (Breeza to Gunnedah)
 Aquifer access licences in Upper Namoi Zone 3 (Breeza to Gunnedah) groundwater source
have received an allocation of 0.88 megalitres per unit share (ML/share). This reduced
allocation is needed to restore usage back to within the water sharing plan’s compliance limit.
 This groundwater source has pressed compliance limits on several occasions in the past.
 It was identified in the 22 May 2019 Groundwater Allocation Statement as having the potential
to trigger reduced allocations for the 2019-20 water year, however; the final extraction volume
was under the compliance trigger and no reduction was necessary at that time.


Lower Murrumbidgee (Deep)
 Aquifer licences in the Lower Murrumbidgee (deep) groundwater source have received an
allocation of 0.65 ML/share. This is the estimated allocation required to bring the average
annual extraction back within the water sharing plan’s compliance limit.
 An initial reduction in 2019-20 to 0.7 ML/share did signal to licence holders that extraction had
exceeded sustainable limits. The department advised that extraction can be steered back to
sustainable levels by reducing allocations over consecutive years.

Eastern Recharge
 Aquifer access licences in the Eastern Recharge groundwater source have received an
allocation of 0.25 ML/share. This is the estimated allocation required to steer the average
usage back to within the water sharing plan’s compliance limit.
 This is the third consecutive year that extraction has exceeded the plan’s compliance limit
despite reduced allocations.


Upper Lachlan Alluvial Zone 1
 A temporary water restriction order will be issued to restrict aquifer access licence extraction for
the Upper Lachlan Alluvial Zone 1 Management Zone
 Under the proposed restriction order, irrigators will be allowed access to 30% of their water
entitlement share and to trade this volume within the management zone.
 This level of access, combined with the extended period of forewarning, is to restore bore
water levels while also enabling water users to adjust their planned production.
 The restriction order will also protect water for critical human and environmental needs and
prevent irreversible damage to the Upper Lachlan aquifer.
 The observed decline in groundwater level is associated with below average rainfall over
several years, reduced average groundwater recharge, and an increase in groundwater
extraction to meet water needs which would otherwise be met using surface water

Lower Lachlan Groundwater 100%

Lower Murray Groundwater 100%

For all groundwater opening allocations click here

For all unregulated river allocations click here

Victoria

The seasonal determinations for northern Victorian water systems on Wednesday, July 1 are:

Water SystemHigh-Reliability Water ShareLow-Reliability Water Share
Murray8%0%
Broken17%0%
Goulburn35%0%
Campaspe32%0%
Loddon35%0%
Bullarook0%0%

Click here for the full water determination

South Australia

Water allocations in 2020-21 for South Australian Class 3 (High Security) and Class 8 entitlement holders are now – as of 1 July 2020 – at 54 percent. This has risen from the water year’s starting allocation which was 40 percent

Click here to read the allocation announcement

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