July 2019 Newsletter
From the CEO
Increased water use and welcome high seasonal allocation overshadowed by worsening drought conditions and overdevelopment/water deliverability concerns in the Murray.
New plantings and dry conditions have resulted in an 8% increase above the 5-year average of the volume of water pumped by WMI in 2018-19.
Coomealla and Buronga increased 9% and 15% respectively while Curlwaa was down 3%.
NSW Murray high security allocation for 2019-20 has been confirmed at 97% – the highest opening allocation in the southern Murray Darling Basin.
However, a drier than usual winter continues across regional NSW with the Northern valleys already in deep drought, and drought conditions on the Southern valleys worsening. The climate outlook for July to September remains drier and warmer than average – not good news.
A recent report commissioned by the Victorian government shows water demand for permanent horticulture in the lower Murray is much higher than previously estimated and will continue to grow as existing plantings mature. This has prompted the Victorian government to take the extraordinary step in directing Lower Murray Water and Goulburn Murray Water to refer all new water works licence applications in the lower Murray to the Minster for Water for review for the next 12 months, effective immediately. It seems unlikely that any new applications will be approved.
This approach, suggested by VIC to NSW and SA, will be reviewed when Murray Darling Basin Authority modelling is complete, and all states can put clear plans in place to manage how water is delivered through the Murray system.
This follows a surprising but perhaps timely call by the Almond Board of Australia for a moratorium on all new water use licenses pending a review of the river system’s capacity to deliver water to support more development without adverse third-party or environmental impact.
WMI continues to advocate for government action on this deliverability constraint (mainly Barmah Choke) particularly through the peak summer demand period.
The governments are finally starting to take this seriously, but will it be too little too late?