MDBA reveals low Murray-Darling inflows

There's been a dry start for Murray Darling Basin catchments


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January to March Murray Darling Basin inflows extremely low

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Murray Darling Basin Authority River Management executive director Andrew Reynolds.

Murray Darling Basin Authority River Management executive director Andrew Reynolds.

Inflows into the Murray Darling Basin have been within the lowest 14 per cent on record, for the first three months of the year, according to the Bureau of Meterology.

But the BoM reported while conditions had been very dry, across much of the southern Basin, River Murray inflows for 2018-19 were still well above those of the lowest on record, 2006-07.

Murray Darling Basin Authority River Management executive director Andrew Reynolds said in March 2007, inflows totalled 48Gigalitres, and were within the lowest one per cent years on record for that month.

"Furthermore, in 2006-07 inflows for the period June to March were the lowest on record totalling 752GL," Mr Reynolds said.

"Inflows for June to March this year have totalled 2,558 GL which is three and a half times the 2006-07 inflow for the same period. The long-term average inflow for June to March is 8,349 GL."

River Murray system inflows for the month of March totalled approximately 113GL, which is below the long-term median inflow for the month of 150GL.

"This is within the lowest 24pc on record for March."

Mr Reynolds said the BoM reported March 2019 was the warmest on record, for Australia as whole, however the end of the month brought cooler and wetter conditions across the Murray-Darling Basin.

At the beginning of April rainfall was recorded across most of the Basin.

In the northern basin, the remnants of ex-tropical cyclone Trevor brought moderate falls to central and eastern Queensland.

Highest rainfall totals included 97millimetres, at Balmacarra in the Warrego River basin, and 72mm at Warra Bridge in the eastern Darling Downs.

In the central western slopes of NSW, Coonabarabran received 69 mm, and rainfall has resulted in increased streamflow in the Castlereagh River.

No Darling flows

Despite streamflow responses observed in some northern river catchments from recent rainfall, flow in the Darling River as far south as Menindee was not likely.

Further south, a cold front tracked across south-eastern Australia, interacting with other rainfall drivers, to produce widespread moderate falls in eastern NSW and Victoria.

In the southeast, 48mm fell at Canberra airport and in Victoria rainfall totals included 46mm at Eurobin in the upper northeast and 41mm at Lake Dartmouth in the lower northeast.

Across the Basin as a whole the BoM reported an area average rainfall for the Murray-Darling Basin in February of 41.1mm which is seven per cent above the long-term average for the Basin.

Mr Reynolds said climatic conditions, system losses and demands continued to gradually ease.

"Transfers from Dartmouth to Hume Reservoir have ceased and flows from Yarrawonga and Intervally Trade delivery from the Goulburn system have both been reduced," he said.

"Over the coming week there is a low risk of a shortfall, based on current demands, weather forecasts and operations."

Mr Reynolds said transfers from upstream storages to Lake Victoria were required to ensure all system demands could be met over a very hot and dry summer and autumn period.

"The Lake Victoria level is forecast to be very low over the coming months as water transferred from upstream storages has been used to meet water orders in the Murray and at the South Australian border," he said.

"The low storage volume in Lake Victoria maximises the opportunity for any inflows over autumn and winter to be captured in Lake Victoria - conserving volumes held in upstream storages.

"Inflows over autumn and early winter will guide system operations over the coming months."

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