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Published: 12 March 2020   •   Media release

A rainy end to the summer of 2019-20 holds the promise of fresh flows in the Lower Darling for the first time in years, but summer was still hot and dry overall.  

In the latest fortnightly drought update, MDBA Executive Director of River Management, Andrew Reynolds, said over 200 gigalitres has begun arriving in the Menindee Lakes system, following widespread rain in the northern Basin.

"This rain has brought relief for many drought-affected communities, but it’s important to keep it all in perspective. This summer was the second-warmest summer on record and there are still critical water supply issues for some of our towns in the north," Andrew Reynolds said.

The 80mm of rain averaged across the Basin in the last month was double the long-term February average, but summer overall was still 16 per cent drier than average.

"Things are looking better than they have for a long time, but it’s too early to say the drought has broken."

The heaviest falls in the week to 9 March were isolated to areas including Dederang in the Kiewa Valley (170 mm) and Hungerford on the Paroo River (125 mm).

"So far, the impact of the rain on southern storage levels has been modest, but now these catchments are wet, we’re hoping that any follow-up rain ends up in storages instead of soaking into dry ground."

Mr Reynolds reiterated concerns around water quality across the Basin.

"The first flush of water has affected water quality and has caused fish deaths in some areas. We are closely monitoring water quality as flows move through Lake Wetherell and into the Lower Darling."

The MDBA can only access the water in the Menindee Lakes for the river Murray system when volumes are high (above 640 gigalitres) and until they fall below 480 gigalitres.

The drought update is available on the MDBA website at www.mdba.gov.au/droughtupdate

ENDS

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