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Wet winter provides positive operating outlook for the Murray

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.
Published: 12 August 2021

Annual Operating Outlook

The Annual Operating Outlook is designed to help water users forward plan and manage possible risks to water security. The Outlook considers management strategies under potential climate conditions, from extremely dry to very wet.

However, the season is unlikely to play out in accordance with any one scenario and the MDBA will review and adapt operations as the season progresses.

Water storages are at higher levels across the board, with Hume Dam currently at 90%, Menindee Lakes at 73% capacity, and good flows entering the Murray from the Victorian tributaries and the Murrumbidgee River.

Access to water in the Menindee Lakes provides the MDBA with greater flexibility to draw on water to meet delivery demands throughout the river system. The MDBA expects to start calling on water from 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.

The risk of shortfall in water delivery to entitlement holders is low this season due to wet weather, although managing the risk of short-term spikes in demand will continue to be a focus for the MDBA 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. The MDBA will progressively re-evaluate forecast rainfall and inflows to guide management of Hume Dam over the year. Communication of flood risk in partnership with the Bureau of Meteorology and on-ground agencies will be a priority if wet conditions continue.

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

Read the Annual Operating Outlook summary.

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