2017/18 season very different to last

August 01, 2017

Setting up the season... Guest speakers at the Murray Dairy event were Agriculture Victoria seasonal risk agronomist Dale Grey, G-MW river operations planning manager Andrew Shields and Rabobank senior analyst Michael Harvey.

Seasonal determinations, the outlook for the 2017-18 irrigation season and the latest information on the risk of a spill were discussed at a recent Murray Dairy event in Shepparton.

Goulburn-Murray Water river operations planning manager Andrew Shields was speaking as part of a Setting Up Your Season workshop on July 20 and said this year’s season was very different to last.

‘‘There is very different storage volumes from last year,’’ Mr Shields said.

He said all of the catchments in the G-MW area had increased substantially from the same time last year, with Eppalock recording the biggest increase as it rose from 25 per cent full (75Gl) on July 17, 2016 to 270Gl or 89 per cent full on the same day this year.

The three major storages — Dartmouth, Hume and Eildon — also had considerable jumps, with Dartmouth increasing from 49 per cent full last year to 78 per cent, Hume reaching 74 per cent compared to 50 per cent and Eildon increasing from 40 per cent to 62 per cent.

There were also increases in carryover figures, with the Murray system increasing by more than 300Gl on last year to 524Gl, and the Goulburn system increased by than 100Gl to be sitting at 711Gl.

Despite the increases, Mr Shields said inflows were progressing slowly.

‘‘Murray system inflows were below average in 2015-16 and above average in 2016-17.

‘‘This year they have been very slow and are tracking worse than 2015-16 as one of the drier years on record.’’

Not only are inflows lacking, regulated surface water determinations are also tracking well below average, with the Murray system tracking at very dry and the same situation looking likely in the Goulburn.

When it comes to the risk of spill, the Goulburn system (20 per cent) is closest to the 10 per cent threshold for using and trading water in that account, while both the Murray and the Campaspe systems are above 50 per cent at 54 and 68 per cent respectively.

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