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Key Water Blog

South Australia’s River Murray Water Allocation Statement

South Australia’s River Murray Entitlement The projected minimum amount of water that will be delivered to South Australia as part of its Entitlement in the 2020-21 water year is 696 gigalitres (GL). This is a conservative estimate that assumes:  the remainder of the current 2019-20 water year will be very dry1 ; and  that inflows into the River Murray System in the 2020-21 water year will be consistent with those experienced in exceptionally dry years2 . Projected Minimum Opening Irrigation Allocation The projected minimum, or worst case, opening Class 3 (High Security) allocation for the 2020-21 water year is 2 percent. Projected minimum opening allocations from South Australia’s Entitlement for other classes of water are included in Table 1. Allocation decisions are made based on South Australia’s water allocation framework detailed in the Water Allocation Plan for the South Australian River Murray Prescribed Watercourse. The first water available to South Australia is 696 GL for dilution and loss purposes. This is part of the state’s River Murray system conveyance requirements. This is needed to ‘run the river’ from the South Australian border to Wellington and ensure that salinity levels do not exceed a minimum standard for drinking water. Under extremely dry conditions, the water for dilution and loss may be used to make an initial 2 percent allocation to Class 3 (High Security) and Class 8 entitlement holders. The second water available is for critical human water needs (CHWN). To help South Australia prepare for an extended dry period, water can be stored from the Entitlement in the major River Murray storages in one year to meet CHWN and private carryover in a future year. At the end of March 2020, approximately 238 GL is available in storage to meet South Australia’s CHWN. In the absence of any further improvements in water availability between now and the start of the 2020-21 water year, water stored in South Australia’s Storage Right may be used to underpin the delivery of CHWN at the start of the 2020-21 water year.

Private carryover will be available for eligible water users in the 2020-21 water year. This means that an individual may carryover allocation volumes that are available to them and not used by the end of the 2019-20 water year, up to 20 percent of the volume of their Class 3 (High Security) entitlement. The existing 100 per cent limit on the combined allocation and carryover volumes granted under Class 3 (High Security) entitlements will continue to apply in 2020-21. However, under a rule change that applies from 1 July 2020, allocation volumes that would otherwise be granted above this 100 per cent limit in 2020-21 will be ‘rolled over’ into 2021-22 if carryover is triggered for that year (i.e. if the minimum opening allocation announced in April 2021 is 50 per cent or less). For example, if you have carried over 20 percent of your allocation, any improvements above 80 percent will go into your rollover account and will only be available if the minimum opening allocation for the 2021-22 water year is 50 percent or less.

Note: current projections indicate that there is just over a 60 per cent likelihood that Class 3 (High Security) allocations will reach at least 80 per cent by the end of 2020-21.

Water held in storage. There was 2,632 GL (28 percent of capacity) held in Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) controlled storages at the end of March 2020. This is 6 percent less than the same time last year, and significantly less than the long-term average volume held in storage at the end of March of 5,505 GL (59 percent of total capacity). 101.4 GL of water is currently held in storage for South Australian Private Carryover.

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