South Australian irrigators will begin the 2016-17 water year with only 36 per cent of their usual water allocations due to low rainfall.

South Australian Water and the River Murray Minister Ian Hunter announced the opening allocations, alongside irrigator access to private carryover.

Recent rainfall events have not been sufficient to provide an increase above the 36 per cent opening allocation.

Mr Hunter said, “The Government has worked closely with irrigators to ensure the minimum opening allocations reflect the principles advocated by irrigators and other stakeholders during consultations on the development of a revised River Murray Water Allocation Plan.”

Water for private carryover will be granted to eligible water users in 2016-17 to provide an alternative source of water due to allocations being less than 100 per cent.

Water allocations for all River Murray water users across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia have been affected by low inflows in 2015-16 due to below average rainfall and the resulting dry catchments.

At the peak of the millennium drought SA River Murray water access entitlement holders received opening allocations of just two per cent but the past five years has seen irrigators receive 100 per cent of their allocations.

Mr Hunter said users will be advised of any changes to their allocations when more regular rainfall occurs and inflows into storages increase.

“Water resource availability will be closely monitored as the year progresses, and increases to water allocations will be made on the basis of actual improvements in resource availability,” Mr Hunter said.

“Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources will provide monthly water allocation updates to allow water users to track improvements and make their own business decisions.” 

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