SA River Murray water access entitlement holders will receive their water allocations earlier than expected in order to prepare for predicted dry inflows.
River Murray water users will find out their minimum opening allocation for the 2016-17 water year by 30 April 2016.
Water and the River Murray Minister, Ian Hunter, said the South Australian Government wants to provide water users with as much information as possible, as early as possible.
“I’m sure many South Australians are aware that the outlook for River Murray inflows in 2016-17 is still not positive,” Mr Hunter said.
“The Government wants to ensure River Murray water users are able to make early decisions and plan for what could be very dry inflows.
“As a result, opening water allocations will be based on a scenario such that only five in 100 years would be expected to have lower inflows.
“This scenario is conservative but consistent with storage conditions and outlook, and assumes a maximum flow of 1,310 GL by June 2017, compared to 1,850 GL in a full entitlement flow year.
“The forecast of dry conditions highlights the importance of the full return of 3200 GL, as agreed in the Basin Plan, and I will continue to seek to ensure the commitments we have secured in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan are delivered on time, and in full.”
Mr Hunter said the government is responding to irrigators’ and community feedback by providing entitlement holders certainty around allocations earlier, allowing more efficient water use planning.
“I intend to make subsequent, regular allocation announcements based on any improvements to water resources availability, and informed by the findings of the Adelaide Desalination Plant cost benefit study, due in May,” Mr Hunter said.
“Also, private carryover will be available for eligible water users in 2016-17, and underused water allocations traded into SA from interstate will now be taken into account in determining eligibility.
“Based on Basin storage levels and the low risk of spill, this carryover is underwritten by approximately 60 GL of water stored for this purpose in MDBA controlled storages.
“In addition, I have approved a revised River Murray private carryover policy that allows for underused allocations traded from interstate to be factored into eligibility for carryover.
“This allows for additional water beyond the 60 GL to also be stored for carryover, if there is net trade of water allocation into SA for this purpose between now and the end of the water year.”
Under current licence conditions, formal allocation of carryover requires water users to submit their meter readings so eligibility can be assessed.
The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources will continue to monitor Murray-Darling Basin water resource conditions and provide updated information in the weekly River Murray Flow Reports.
Changes to the River Murray private carryover policy are consistent with the policy in the draft River Murray Water Allocation Plan, and the revised River Murray private carryover policy will be formalised in the SA Government Gazette and posted on the DEWNR website.