Good rain, but drought not yet over

MDBA says drought is still affecting storages

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LOW LEVELS: The Hume Dam, spilling after filling in 2016. Its now at 16.2pc of its capacity.

LOW LEVELS: The Hume Dam, spilling after filling in 2016. Its now at 16.2pc of its capacity.

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Storages remain low, despite good rain.

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A wet start to autumn has brought smiles to the faces of many farmers in southern NSW and Victoria, but the Murray-Darling Basin Authority says there's still a long way to go, before calling an end to the drought.

While earlier rain had been patchy and uneven, in the past two weeks MDBA River Management executive director Andrew Reynolds said there had been widespread and persistent falls across the Basin.

Areas in the south recorded the heaviest falls, particularly River Murray tributaries including the Kiewa and Goulburn Rivers.

But Mr Reynolds said Basin storages continued to reflect the dire situation of the past few years.

"This rain has been a welcome change after years of extreme drought, but for that very reason it hasn't had the impact on storage levels you might expect,' Mr Reynolds said.

"Overall Basin storage levels are currently at 13 per cent in the north and 33pc in the south, which is steady since the previous fortnightly update.

"Only Menindee Lakes showed a large increase; up 7pc to 12pc, with smaller gains at Blowering Dam (up four pc to 45pc)."

Dartmouth stood at 46.69pc of full capacity, while the Hume Dam was at 16.2 per cent of capacity.

Read more:

Water prices tumble, on back of good rain

Parts of Victoria get double their monthly rainfall in five days

For the last 36 months, virtually the entire Basin has had below-average, or record-low rainfall, so making up for that will take a lot more rain.

Despite this, Mr Reynolds celebrated the first flows into Menindee Lakes for years, which have come on the back of heavy rainfall in the northern Basin catchments.

"Between 390 and 420 gigalitres of water is estimated to flow into the lakes over the coming weeks, and we've already had enough for WaterNSW to restart flows to the lower Darling," he said.

"This is great news for locals and farmers who have long-awaited a reprieve from years of drought."

"It's also great for the environment, and as these flows reconnect refuge pools along the way, we'll see better outcomes for native fish populations and a lessening of some of the water quality issues we've had to date."

The flows into the lower Darling are expected to connect with the River Murray after Easter.

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