NSW Water Allocations reflect some easing after record drought conditions

Media release | 1 July 2020

Today’s water allocations announced by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment for licensed water users reflect some improvement in resource availability, particularly for towns and high priority entitlements.

“While supplies for towns and stock and domestic and other high priority uses are secured for the coming year, new allocations for general security water users on regulated rivers will again be low or zero across much of the State,” Vanessa O’Keefe, Executive Director Policy, Planning & Sciences, said.

“While the coastal catchments are much better placed for the coming year, water availability across the entire Murray-Darling Basin remains seriously depleted.

“Total storage levels for WaterNSW operated dams, excluding the Snowy, are about 6,118 gigalitres, which is 34.5 per cent of total storage capacity.

“While this is about 3.5 per cent higher than this time last year – unfortunately the situation for many water users is still grim. Despite some rainfall in recent months, and recovery of soil moisture for croppers, major storages have missed out on inflows meaning there is little resource improvement to allocate.

Ms O’Keefe said that while many parts of the NSW coast had received decent rain at the start of the year, inland rainfall in most cases had failed to boost storage levels in most places, resulting in small initial allocations for many licenced water users.

“Today’s commencing water allocations reflect a slow recovery from record dry conditions affecting much of inland NSW.

“In the far west of NSW the situation for water users on the Lower Darling has taken a turn for the better, with Menindee Lakes currently at 29 per cent of capacity.

“This means that water can be run along the entire length of the Lower Darling for the first time in almost two years.

“Based on current storage levels in the lakes – there should be enough water to run the river for at least the next 12 to 18 months.

“While this is wonderful news for the people and communities along the Lower Darling, I remain hopeful that winter rains may bolster dam levels across the state and provide much needed water for NSW towns, irrigators, industry and the environment,” she said.

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast wetter than average conditions for much of NSW during August to October.

“The department will continue to monitor conditions closely so that any possible increases to water allocations can be announced if further water becomes available,” Ms O’Keefe said.

Additional information on available water determinations can be found on the department’s Water website.