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Published: 02 August 2019   •   Media release

The 2019-20 Annual Operating Outlook for the River Murray outlines a range of scenarios from extreme dry to wet that are expected in the year ahead and provides insights into how these scenarios effect operation of the river.

Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) Executive Director of River Management, Andrew Reynolds, said two consecutive dry years along with the Bureau of Meteorology's most recent three month climate outlook for below average rainfall meant very wet or extremely wet scenarios were unlikely to eventuate.

"Last year (2018-19) was in the eighth driest year on record in the Murray–Darling Basin and the year prior (2017-18) was the 13th driest year," Mr Reynolds said.

"Winter and spring are typically when storages receive most of their rainfall and while July has been promising we're a long way from the inflows we need to see to fill storages.

"We're starting this water year with well below average storage levels in the Murray and with the crippling drought in the north of the Basin there's no ability to access water from the Menindee Lakes System for River Murray entitlement holders.

"There's a long way to go this water year before we have any level of certainly about what next year might look like.

"However, we plan for all conditions, and if they remain dry then we can expect lower storage levels by the end of this water year.

"The Outlook gives water users an insight into the possible operating scenarios for the year ahead.

"Each year we plan for a range of inflow scenarios and while we all hope for good rain we need to make sure we're operating the system as effectively and efficiently as possible given the range of ways the year could pan out.

"We're also always looking to manage the on-going risk of a delivery shortfall, where demand could outstrip our ability to move water through the system.

"Whilst consumptive demands are expected to be lower than last year, there is still much water to deliver including water for the environment. This means the risk of a delivery shortfall remains.

"The MDBA is commitment to accountability and transparency. That's why later in the year we'll review the plan and publically update it in line with prevailing conditions."

The Outlook is prepared by the MDBA with input from the Australian Government and the Basin states of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

The 2019-2020 River Murray System Annual Operating Outlook is available on the MDBA website.


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