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Published: 09 August 2021   •   Media release

Rising dam levels in the River Murray system are providing a positive start to the water year according to the MDBA's 2021-22 Annual Operating Outlook released today.

The Annual Operating Outlook is designed to help water users forward plan and manage possible risks to water security.

The MDBA Executive Director of River Management, Andrew Reynolds, said the Outlook considered management strategies under all potential climate conditions, from extremely dry to very wet.

"The season will not play out in accordance with any one scenario. We will review and adapt as the season progresses, however it is heartening that the river system is starting the year on a much more positive footing than last year," Mr Reynolds said.

"Water storages are at higher levels across the board, with Hume Dam currently at 86%, Menindee Lakes at 69% capacity, and good flows entering the Murray from the Victorian tributaries and the Murrumbidgee River.

"Access to water in the Menindee Lakes provides us with greater flexibility to draw on water to meet delivery demands throughout the river system. Under most scenarios we expect to start calling on water from the Menindee Lakes in spring or early summer which is in line with the operating rules to maximise water availability, while considering the needs of communities and the environment.

"Given it's been wet so far, the risk of a shortfall in water delivery to entitlement holders is low overall, especially compared with 2019-20, although managing the risk of short-term spikes in demand will continue to be a focus of our river operations team over summer.

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting wetter than average conditions in the Upper Murray catchments over winter and spring, which means there is an increased chance of flooding.

"We evaluate conditions every day, based on Bureau data, inflow data, predicted inflows and historical records to determine how to best manage the dam. Communication of flood risk in partnership with the Bureau of Meteorology and on-ground agencies will be a priority if wet conditions continue," Andrew Reynolds said.

The River Murray System Annual Operating Outlook is prepared by the MDBA with input from the Australian Government and the New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian governments.

A summary of the Annual Operating Outlook is available online here:

An update will be published at the end of October 2021 and at other times if deemed appropriate by the MDBA.


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