Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) delivered more than two million megalitres of water to customers in the 2017/18 season, which finished on Tuesday May 15 for the irrigation districts.
The season’s deliveries of 2,047,000 ML were the highest since the 2014/15 season, where more than 2,058,000 ML of water was delivered.
For perspective, the amount of water delivered this season across all GMW systems is the equivalent of 60 per cent of Lake Eildon’s total storage capacity.
GMW Managing Director Pat Lennon said the water delivery consultants, field officers and customer support staff had worked hard to meet the challenge of a high-demand season.
“A huge volume of water has gone through our system to be delivered to our customers in the 2017/18 season, and we’ve met this logistical challenge with very few issues, it’s a testament of the effort put in by our staff” Mr Lennon said.
GMW Customer Operations Manager Scott Barber said a high-demand season puts pressure on the system in a number of ways, and as with most years the demand for irrigation increased in autumn.
“The sheer volume of water going through our weirs, rivers and channels to meet demand results in significant pressure on our channel network – not just the infrastructure but also the ability to deliver the correct volume of water ordered at the requested time,” he said.
“The demand for irrigation water increases during autumn, which is traditionally a high water use period, and this year was no exception with some channel congestion occurring in isolated parts of the network during April as the demand for irrigation water increased.
“When demand started to exceed channel delivery capacity our customers responded well by placing their water orders as early as possible, and if required, worked with our staff to alter their water orders to help maximise channel capacity.”
By the end of the season, more than 231,000 ML had been delivered to the Murray Valley area; 282,000 ML to the Torrumbarry area; 127,000 ML to the Shepparton area; 315,000 ML to the Central Goulburn area; 166,000 ML to the Rochester area; 191,000 ML to the Loddon Valley area; and 733,000 ML to our regulated river diverters across the GMW operational area.
Resource Manager for Northern Victoria Mark Bailey said the 2017/18 season had been dry and low rainfall had an impact on storage inflows.
A prolonged dry spell in the opening months of 2018 led to a dry season, with large areas of Victoria recording rainfalls well below the average.
The Bureau of Meteorology proclaimed Victoria had the driest April since 1997, with the total monthly rainfall totaling 68.5 per cent below the long-term mean of 51 mm.
The dry conditions translated into below average inflows to the major GMW storages. Most of the storages have received less than 50 per cent of the long-term mean.
Up until the end of April, Lake Eildon received above the long-term mean at almost 850,000 ML in inflows, which is 71 per cent of the long-term mean.
Storages receiving less than 50 per cent of mean included Goulburn Weir, which received approximately 476,000 ML, Lake Eppalock which received approximately 45,200 ML and Lake Nillahcootie which received approximately 16,000 ML.
Dartmouth Dam recorded more than 524,000 ML of inflows, while the Hume Dam recorded more than 1,099,000 ML.
“Conditions have been warm and dry across northern Victoria through autumn and storage levels are yet to increase,” Dr Bailey said.
“While the irrigation season has only just finished, it’s still important for GMW customers to look ahead and plan for the 2018/19 season.”
The first seasonal determination and risk of spill for the new season will be issued on Monday 2 July.
Find out more about seasonal determinations and subscribe to updates at www.nvrm.net.au
The 2018/19 season will begin on August 15.