(Australian Associated Press)
The Murray River is set to enter spring with a positive outlook after strong rainfall filled dams and lakes across the lower basin.
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has released its annual outlook designed to help water users plan and manage possible risks to water security.
The risk of a shortfall across the river system is considered very low with the Menindee Lakes at 69 per cent capacity.
MDBA river management executive director Andrew Reynolds said water in those lakes allowed for more flexibility to meet demand.
“Given it’s been wet so far, the risk of a shortfall in water delivery to entitlement holders is low overall, especially compared with 2019-20,” he said on Monday.
“Although managing the risk of short-term spikes in demand will continue to be a focus of our river operations team over summer.”
The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting wetter than average conditions in upper Murray catchments over winter and spring, which means there is an increased chance of flooding.
NSW’s Hume Dam is at 86 per cent capacity, increasing the risk the reservoir could spill.
Wetter conditions in recent months have spurred storage levels higher.
There remains potential for La Nina conditions to form in mid-spring, bringing above-average spring rainfall to eastern Australia.
The outlook also suggests temperatures are likely to be warmer than average across the upper Murray, yet average to cooler than average conditions are anticipated across the rest of the basin.
Mr Reynolds said the outlook considered management strategies under all potential climate conditions, from extremely dry to very wet.
“The season will not play out in accordance with any one scenario,” he said.
“We will review and adapt as the season progresses, however it is heartening that the river system is starting the year on a much more positive footing than last year.”