Welcome rain boosts catchments: GMW

Welcome rain boosts catchments: GMW


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Heavy rain, throughout the north and north-east of Victoria, would go a long way to supporting next year’s irrigation season, according to Goulburn-Murray Water northern resource manager Mark Bailey.

Heavy rain, throughout the north and north-east of Victoria, would go a long way to supporting next year’s irrigation season, according to Goulburn-Murray Water northern resource manager Mark Bailey.

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RAINFALL TOTALS: The rainfall totals to yesterday morning.

RAINFALL TOTALS: The rainfall totals to yesterday morning.

And irrigators say the rain should mean a further drop in water prices, as well as delaying having to water crops and paddocks.

Australian Dairy Farmers Murray-Darling Basin Task Force chair Daryl Hoey said most irrigators would gain a week to ten days reprieve.

“Some will go out a bit longer than that,” Mr Hoey said.

He said the heaviest falls were in the Strathbogie and Euroa areas, which would benefit dams, and flow into allocation prices, further south.

“We would need a good 10 per cent lift in catchments, to see a drop in water prices,” Mr Hoey said.

WEEKEND RAIN: The Bureau of Meteorology map, showing the extent of the weekend rainfall.

WEEKEND RAIN: The Bureau of Meteorology map, showing the extent of the weekend rainfall.

It might be another week before the full extent of the inflows was known, with more rain was predicted in the next few days.

“The catchments were wet, so it’s certainly going to have some benefit. But we won’t know how large a benefit that will be for another week.

“Goulburn system water prices were dropping last week, possibly in anticipation that the rain was going to happen, so it may come back $10 or $20 a megalitre.”

Dr Bailey said the rain came on the back of late last week’s announcement of 100 per cent high-reliability water shares (HRWS), for the Goulburn and Loddon River systems.

“I think we will see some good levels left in the major storages,” Mr Bailey said.

While the Loddon system didn’t receive much rain, Lake Eildon and Hume Dam saw significant inflows.

“It’s a bit early to tell how much but it will certainly help support the establishment of reserves for next year, which is the phase we are now in,” Dr Bailey said.

“Once we hit 100pc, we start building reserves for the following year.”

The low-reliability water shares (LRWS) seasonal determination in the Broken system increased from 20pc to 63pc. The Broken system also had 100 per cent HRWS.

Mr Bailey said improved flows in the Goulburn, Broken and Campaspe systems had increased resources available for the seasonal determinations in each system.

“While relatively low, tributary inflows helped meet operating commitments in each system and flows into the storages were higher than estimated.

“These factors enabled the seasonal determinations to increase,” Dr Bailey said.

“The current shortfall to a low-reliability water share seasonal determination in the Murray system remains at 850 GL and the shortfall in the Goulburn system is about 1,000 GL.

“Closure of the shortfalls during 2017/18 will depend on the reduction of current commitments and improved inflows to increase resources.”

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Chris Godfred said the heaviest rain had now passed through Victoria, although east Gippsland was soon likely to benefit from another  system.

“There is a trough developing along the east coast, in the next 24-36 hours. The rain is probably falling in the right spots, as they had some pretty good falls in the past little while,” Mr Godfred said.

Orbost recorded 50millimetres, while 35mm fell at Mallacoota.

“There is plenty of room to add a bit more, before flooding becomes a problem.”

Temperatures would remain below average, with drying south to south-easterly winds bringing relief and another cold front would cross Victoria on Thursday.

Baddaginnie, sheep producer Peter Holmes said his property received only 73mm, compared with the 200-300mm predicted by the weather bureau.

“I get up early and listen to the weather report, and 200-300mm of rain was predicted for the area between Seymour, Shepparton and Wangaratta,” Mr Holmes said.

“I am right in the middle of it, but fortunately we didn’t get that.”

He said he had heard reports of falls of up to 215mm at Mansfield and 190mm at Euroa.

“It’s a beautiful sunny day, there’s a strong southerly wind, drying out everything very quickly,” Mr Holmes said.

In anticipation of the predicted rain, Mr Holmes said he cleaned out his machinery and wool shed “and loaded it up with 1300 lambs.”

The rain did devalue his dry feed, washing the nutrients out of it.

Echuca grain grower Glenn Murrells said his property received 112mm of rain, with 130mm in the town.

He said the rain meant his wheat had been downgraded to feed standard but he said he would now plant feed millet.

“I’ll take advantage of it and turn lemons into lemonade,” he said.

“We won’t have to water for a couple of weeks, it should see the market come right off, for temporary water.”

Katunga dairy farmer Paul Stammers said his property had received 68millimetres of rain.

He said it had provided his millet crops with their first watering.

“We filled up our turkey’s nest and we have 20 megalitres of water we wouldn’t normally have had, through run off from the property and the Goulburn-Murray Water drainage system,” Mr Stammers said.

“The thing we are enjoying is a cool start to December, because we calve now, so it’s not stressing the cows as much.”

Last week, Manangatang grain grower Leeton Ryan said while it looked as though the area would be hit hard by storms, there wasn’t as much rain as was initially predicted.

The crops could handle up to 50mm of rain, as long as there were “some nice days afterwards to dry it all out.”

Wimmera grain and pulse grower Matt Rohde said the harvest had been going well.

His canola crop was already off and he was currently harvesting barley.

“Quality has been great so far, however there are concerns the rain is going to affect wheat and barley quality still in the paddock,” Mr Rohde said.

“It will probably depend how long it stays wet for, more-so than the total amount received.

Portland dairy farmer Jessa Fleming agreed the falls were lighter than initially predicted.

“It’s gone more north but and inch for us at this time of year is great, it’ll bounce all the silage and crop paddocks along.”

She said the initial forecast was 40-80mm, but it was later downgraded.

“We had an amazing spring, we cut a record amount of silage and this will keep us going.”

Farmers generally reported short bursts of rain, with Craig Hinchcliffe, Tatyoon, south of Ararat,  said the quantity was unusual

“It’s the fact that most of the rainfall occurred in just three or four specific rain events that lasted for only a few minutes,” Mr Hinchcliffe said.

“For those neighbours with hay on the ground (because of frost damaged crops) these rain events couldn't have arrived at a worse time.”

Yea beef producer Jan Beer said “a couple of hundred head” of cattle had been shifted off the river flats, in anticipation of heavy falls.

She said the property recieved 104mm, in what was the first time in years rain had fallen solidly.

“We did shift all our cattle off the (Yea) river flats – it’s not nice to lay there at night, listening to the pouring rain and wondering if they are swimming around in water,” Ms Beer said.

“The cattle had to come off, the flats are not completely under, but they are flooded.”

“Eildon would have to break for them not to be safe now,” she said.

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