Low River Murray flow management considered at Tailem Bend MDBA session

Below-average inflows to the southern basin are impacting decisions along the River Murray this season, according to Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) representatives.

At a meeting in Tailem Bend last Wednesday, the authority considered the challenges associated with managing water resources in the current drought conditions being experienced.

Despite mild improvements in inflows across the Murray system in July and August, very dry conditions have returned, with River Murray inflows for September expected to be within the driest five per cent of September inflows on record.

Since January 2017, an average of 876 millimetres of rain had fallen across the basin - the third-lowest total for any 33-month period since 1900.

The Bureau of Meteorology predicted drier and warmer than average conditions would continue for the rest of 2019.

Chair of the Basin Community Committee Rory Treweeke said there had been immense pressure on local communities across the basin, and the complexities of water management during drought, such as the installation and testing of water meters when there was no water available.

The MDBA was in South Australia as part of a series of four outlook sessions in the southern basin, informing local communities about river conditions, water availability and climate influences in the lead-up to summer.

It was agreed this step to broaden community understanding was an important initiative and would build stakeholder awareness of measures to ensure water management was as efficient as possible in the face of dry conditions.

However, the session was not widely advertised.

Authority members met with local stakeholders including mayors, representatives from the SA Nature Foundation, irrigators, Coorong community and Basin Community Committee members.

Members were also hosted by the SA Department of Environment and Water on a tour of the Lower Lakes and barrages, and met community members at Goolwa and Meningie.

The next meeting of the MDBA is scheduled for November 12-13 in Canberra.