Australia’s water security looking up despite early declines in reserves

Posted 3 November 2017

Hume Dam
Short-term water security is on the rise Australia wide, according to the latest annual water report from the Bureau of Meteorology.

While the Water in Australia 2015-16 report outlines a decline in reserves, the Bureau’s Head of Water Resources Section Dr Amgad Elmahdi said storage levels across the country are actually faring well in comparison to recent years. 

“The storage level declined by around 7% in comparison to 2014-15. The reason for that is the temporal variability of rainfall and the average rainfall we received in that year,” Elmahdi said. 

“During the time of extraction, we received less rainfall. But by the end of the recorded year, rainfall started up again. Across the interior, we actually received a higher than average rainfall; much of the country had a very wet onset of the 2016 winter.

“If we talk about what happened this year, we received enough rainfall by the end of the year to increase inflows into dams to take storage levels to above 70% around the country. This is good news for water security.”

Elmahdi said the report's predicted increase in water availability around the country is a result of the 2015–16 El Niño brake down and the development of a negative Indian Ocean Dipole in May, causing conditions to turn dramatically wetter. 

After Australia’s ninth-driest April on record, May came in as the sixth wettest and June as second wettest, which has resulted in heavier than usual rainfall in southern parts of Australia.

“We have been in La Niña conditions during the last six months of 2016. This of course has been evident in the high rainfall, but also with some other spatial variabilities,” he said.

“We received a good amount of rainfall, which is reflected in the levels of inflow into storage. With high rainfalls in the 2016 winter, rural storages received a surge in inflows. Water extracted for agricultural and urban use accounted for 70% and 21% of the total respectively.”

Bureau data also shows a continued trend of water trading around Australia, despite lower level of water extraction, but with different trends in prices in the southern and northern Murray-Darling Basin. 

Take a look at the full report here
 
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