Dire news for South Australian food producers with the revelation that opening water allocations for the River Murray could be as low as 14 per cent – the lowest since the Millennium Drought.
Minister for Environment and Water, David Speirs, said initial projections for 2019-20 are based on current storage volumes and projected inflow conditions and that there is a very high chance of improved allocations as the main inflow season starts,
“This minimum allocation presents what is expected to be a ‘worst-case’ scenario for food producers − allowing them to plan for the worst while we all continue to hope for significant improvements," said Minister Speirs.
The Department for Environment and Water’s River Murray Water Operations Manager, Jarrod Eaton, said water allocation projections are determined in accordance with the South Australian River Murray Water Allocation Plan,
“Despite the very low projected opening allocation, significant improvements across 2019-20 are likely. Most inflows to the River Murray system historically occur between July and November, so the main inflow season is yet to arrive," said Mr Eaton.
All projections include an extra 50 gigalitres to holders of irrigation licences – in recognition of Adelaide’s access to other sources, including desalination. Compared to the Millennium Drought, this boosts opening irrigation allocations by 8 percent.
Growers will be facing tough decisions about what to do moving forward if things don’t improve, including whether to abandon unprofitable crops or to lease water to keep them alive.
Shadow Minister for Environment and Water, Susan Close, has accused the State Government of acting against the interests of South Australia and has called for urgent action on the Basin Plan at a State and Federal Level,
"The news comes as the Marshall Liberal Government has proven time and time again that it is asleep at the wheel when it comes to delivering the Murray Darling Basin Plan in full,
"We’re being walked over by eastern states getting away without sending water over border and the drought means our people pay the price," Ms Close said.
The next updated water allocation announcement will be around mid-May.
Image: Good Free Photos