Murray and Murrumbidgee water allocation

Media release | 3 September 2018

Today’s water allocations for licensed water users in the Murray region reflect the ongoing dry conditions across much of the State.

Executive Director Water, Department of Industry, Rachel Connell said the NSW Government is supporting rural communities in the Murray with a drought relief package now worth over $1 billion and environmental water being made available.

“NSW water storages have continued to fall since last summer with 100 per cent of the state now in drought. As a result there is no increase in general security allocations in the NSW Murray or Murrumbidgee regulated river systems, although there was an increase in the conveyance licence category of 30GL.

“Water availability across the entire Murray-Darling Basin remains low for irrigators however all high priority needs including towns, domestic and stock watering requirements are secure.

“In the Murray system there is 520GL of carryover, equivalent to 31 per cent of entitlement. Of this, about 430GL is owned by irrigators and other consumptive users.

“This water can be made available across the Murray system through trade however the Department recognises that market demand is pushing prices up.

“August rainfall and tributary inflows in the upper Murray catchment have been very low and today’s allocation announcement reflects that.

“The total NSW resource is currently 990GL. At this time last year there was 1540GL available or 550GL more water in the system able to be allocated.

“Additional future inflows will accrue as a priority to a shortfall in conveyance and environmental commitments, and then to general security entitlements. At least 85 per cent of the next 75GL to be allocated to the conveyance account will go to Murray Irrigation and its customers.

“Irrigators have some flexibility in dealing with seasonal water availability. Most are allowed to carry unused water in accounts forward for use in the new water year and can also buy or sell account water to combat low allocations.

“The Department does not support intervening in the market by suspending water sharing plans and punishing those who have made good business decisions by holding over carryover water.

“We will continually monitor the situation in case further water becomes available however the climate outlook is for hot and dry conditions to continue in coming months.

“The Department will continue to work with our drought-stricken communities during these difficult times,” Ms Connell said.