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Published: 19 October 2021   •   Media release

This week the Murray–Darling Basin Authority is hosting an annual simulation exercise with state government agencies to test and enhance River Murray operators' preparedness for handling a shortfall in water delivery.

A shortfall is when allocated water cannot be delivered to users when and where it is needed. It can occur when demand exceeds the capacity of the river to carry water, or when demand spikes unexpectedly and there isn’t enough time to release the water from dams to meet the demand.

The acting Executive Director of River Management Andrew Kremor said river operators were put through their paces every year as an important part of active risk management and preparedness training.

"Even when the dams are full, there is always a risk that the amount of water we can deliver will fall short of what is required by users along the river for a short period," Dr Kremor said.

"Due to active and agile management of the river, a shortfall has only ever happened once, in 2002."

There are many different players when it comes to delivering water, including the MDBA, state departments and irrigation infrastructure operators, all of whom have specific roles and responsibilities in managing a possible shortfall.

"Together with state partners, each year in the lead-up to summer and the period of high irrigation demand, we test our teams and processes to ensure we’re best placed to manage a shortfall, if it should occur," Dr Kremor said.

"In the simulation exercise this week we will be working through a delivery shortfall scenario and stepping through how the risk is monitored and communicated to water users and communities."

For more on managing the risk in the River Murray, visit the MDBA website Water demand (shortfalls) | Murray–Darling Basin Authority ( and view the March 2021 MDBA webinar: Managing delivery risks in the River Murray.


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