Water availability: all signs positive heading into spring

Thursday 31 August, 2017

Storage volumes continue to rise, irrigation demand remains low and the spring rainfall outlook has shifted from favouring dry conditions to an even chance of average rainfall.

Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) Managing Director Pat Lennon said all these signs point to an optimistic outlook for at least the next few months for customers.

“This is particularly the case for irrigators right across the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID),” Mr Lennon said.

“In the weeks leading up to the re-opening of the irrigation season on August 15, and after experiencing dry mid-winter conditions, we were expecting to receive many requests from our farming customers wanting to place water orders.

“However with recent rainfall across the GMID – impacting positively on all our irrigation districts – many customers are able to delay dipping into their water allocations until later,” Mr Lennon said.

“This current low demand for water makes for a great start to the irrigation season.”

In the wider northern Victorian region, which includes the high country water storages and western reservoirs managed by GMW, the total volume available to entitlement holders is about 14 per cent higher than this time last year.

As at September 13 major storages were at healthy volumes with good inflows recorded in the preceding two weeks. These include:

  • Lake Eildon, 71 per cent
  • Dartmouth Dam, 83 per cent
  • Hume Dam, 90 per cent 
  • Waranga Basin, 88 per cent 
  • Lake Eppalock, 92 per cent*

*Figures rounded to nearest percentage point

GMW Manager Water Resources Mark Bailey said the positive figures were against the backdrop of an improved spring rainfall outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology.

“After favouring a dry spring from September to November, the Bureau is now forecasting no strong signal towards a wetter or a drier next three months,” Dr Bailey said.

At this time last year, predictions for a very wet spring came to pass with some flooding, particularly in the north-east.

Dr Bailey said there were other climate factors at play last year that are not evident today. These included a negative Indian Ocean Dipole and tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures approaching La Niña-like conditions – both important contributors to 2016’s record spring rainfall.

“Conditions are more stable entering into spring this year,” Dr Bailey said.

“Meanwhile, a welcome turnaround on our dry winter has allowed us to have healthy water storage volumes. This benefits all our entitlement-holders.”