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Published: 26 February 2020   •   Media release

The drought has not ended for the Murray–Darling Basin yet, with rain this month modestly increasing some water storages in the north and presenting threats to water quality.

In the latest fortnightly drought update, MDBA Executive Director of River Management,

Andrew Reynolds, said although some rivers in the northern Basin were seeing significant

flows for the first time in years, the Basin was still in drought and much more rain was needed.

"It's the story of the haves, and the have nots," Mr Reynolds said.

"We've had heavy falls and associated flooding in several northern catchments but generally it's been uneven and some areas have seen little or no rain at all."

Over the week to 23 February, 210 mm was recorded in Barradeen between Charleville and Augathella. On the Maranoa River, Mitchell recorded just shy of 160 mm in the same seven-day period.

"Although we're likely to see storage levels in some regions continue to rise, many are near empty and some of the rain that has fallen is downstream of the water storages.

"As of 19 February, northern storages are up 4 per cent to 11 per cent, and southern storages are steady 33 per cent. Overall, basin storages are at 27 per cent.

"Inflows across the Basin continue to be below average overall. Not only has the rain been extremely variable, the drought has left the soil bone dry. Much of the rain is soaking into the ground before it reaches the waterways and the storages."

Mr Reynolds said water quality was a concern throughout the Basin.

"The head of the fresh flows moving through the Barwon-Darling system is posing significant risks to water quality.

"Poor water quality has also caused fish deaths in the Moonie, Culgoa and lower Balonne rivers, and sadly we're likely to see more as the flows move further downstream."

Another significant water quality risk for the Basin continues to be blue-green algae blooms.

"The legacy of the bushfires is also with us and there is still a risk that more ash and sediment will enter waterways. We had significant fears for the Upper Murray but so far River Murray operations and water quality have not been adversely affected, particularly downstream of Hume Dam."

Communities are reminded to contact their state water authority for information about water quality and local water management in their area.

The drought update is available on the MDBA website.


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