Murray–Darling Basin
Future outlook

Future prospects

This note provides information about future water prospects in the Murray–Darling Basin (MDB) region. Information on water assets and water liabilities for the 12-month period after the reporting date that are contingent to future events within the region is included in the 'Contingent water assets and water liabilities' note which follows this 'Future prospects' note.

The following table summarises information on future prospects in the region between 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014.

  

Table 1  Future prospects in the MDB region within 12 months of 30 June 2013
Description

2013 (ML)

Northern Basin

Southern Basin

Whole region

Total water assets as at 30 June1

4,530,689

18,820,044

23,350,733

Less water assets not available to be accessed, taken or delivered      
  Dead storage

73,151

631,245

704,396

  Conveyance water2

20,885

998,377

1,019,262

  Inactive storage3

1,820,118

1,820,118

Less total water liabilities as at 30 June4

1,368,322

2,837,899

4,206,221

   

3,068,331

12,532,405

15,600,736

Less future water commitments expected to be settled within 12 months of the reporting date

expected diversion of surface water allocations and rights5

2,050,000

6,000,000

8,050,000

expected extraction of groundwater allocations and rights6

300,000

550,000

850,000

add future rights expected to be realised within 12 months of the reporting date

Surplus / (deficit) of available water assets over water liabilities and future water commitments expected to be settled within 12 months of the reporting date

718,331

5,982,405

6,700,736

– Data not available

1 Total water assets in the table includes volume of water held in storages, lakes, and wetlands connected to rivers, weirs, locks and river reaches in regulated rivers, inter-region claim on water, and groundwater assets.

2 Conveyance water includes base volumes held in weirs, locks, and river reaches in regulated rivers. These volumes are not available for delivery under normal circumstances, and have to be maintained to deliver water to settle liabilities and commitments.

3 Inactive storages are lakes and wetlands (e.g., Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert) from which water is not available to settle water liabilities and future commitments within 12 months of the reporting date.

4 Water liabilities on 30 June 2013 include remaining surface water and groundwater allocations to entitlement holders.

 5-6 Expected diversion/extrcation of water allocations and rights is the average value from 2009–10 to 2012–13 years.

Taking into consideration the following (subject to actual climatic conditions in the 2013–14 year), it is highly likely that future water commitments expected to be settled within 12 months of the reporting date will be settled:

  • For the 2013–14 year, some of the expected abstractions would actually settle some of the remaining water liabilities, so that actual future commitment would be less than the expected diversion/extraction volumes stated in Table 1.

  • Storage evaporation and other losses, conveyance losses and environmental obligations have to be met from available water resources. It appears available resources are sufficient to meet these requirements. Total surface water evaporation loss reported for the 2012–13 year was 3,036,866 ML (line item 17.1 Evaporation from surface water).

  • There will be future water rights to be realised during the 2013–14 year. They include the required annual release (RAR) that Snowy Hydro is required to deliver to the Tumut River and River Murray, and a claim by Grampians Wimmera–Mallee Water in the Glenelg catchment. The volumes for these claims were 1,739,397 ML from Snowy Hydro and 9,303 ML from the Glenelg catchment for the 2012–13 year (line item 9.15 Increase of inter-region surface water claim on water); however, the actual volume to be provided by Snowy Hydro is contingent to several attributes including the dry inflow sequence volume reduction for the year (a variable to reflect actual inflow during the year) and the volume of water provided by Snowy Hydro to New South Wales irrigators under separate agreements.

  • Details of inflows for the region within 12 months after the reporting date have not yet been available. The net inflow to surface water after river losses was 10,644,500 ML for the 2012–13 year (line items 9.4 Runoff to surface water and 17.10 River and floodplain leakage, evaporation and errors).

Contingent water assets and contingent water liabilities

This note provides information on water assets and water liabilities for the 12-month period after the reporting date that are contingent on future events in the MDB region. Information on water assets and water liabilities that are certain for the 12-month period after the reporting date is included in the above Future prospects note.

Contingent water assetsnon-extractable portion of groundwater

Jurisdictions are responsible within the MDB region for setting annual extraction limits on the groundwater aquifers within sustainable diversion limit (SDL) areas. This limit is established to protect groundwater dependent ecosystems.  Water up to this prescribed maximum extraction limit is recognised as a water asset in the Statement of Water Assets and Water Liabilities. Any aquifer volumes greater than this annual extraction limit are considered a contingent water asset for aquifers in the MDB region; however, there is currently not sufficient information available regarding groundwater resources in the region to allow for a volumetric estimate.

Contingent water assetsinter-region claim on water

Inter-region claims on water that can be considered as contingent water assets in the MDB region are a claim on Snowy Hydro to release water to the MDB region and the claim by Grampians Wimmera–Mallee Water (GWM Water) in the Glenelg catchment.

The Snowy Hydro claim known as the required annual release is estimated considering several input variables at the commencement of the water year; however, input variables on which the actual entitled release depends include dry inflow sequence volume reduction for the year (a variable to reflect actual inflow during the year) and the volume of water provided by Snowy Hydro to New South Wales irrigators under separate agreements. 

Volumes for these two variables are not known at the beginning of the year so the Snowy claim is a contingent water asset for the MDB region.

Under a Victorian bulk entitlement, GWM Water is able to transfer water to the Wimmera–Mallee supply system, located within the MDB region's boundaries from the Glenelg River:

  • upstream of and including Rocklands Reservoir

  • the first and second Wannon creeks upstream of and including the weirs.  

The bulk entitlement requires GWM Water to release water for the purposes of providing a nominal flow for domestic and stock use and other social and environmental purposes in the Glenelg River downstream of Rocklands Reservoir (3,300 ML). The volume that can be diverted to the MDB will therefore depend upon the inflows into the Glenelg River and the requirement to meet the Glenelg compensation flows.  Therefore, the claim is a contingent water asset.

Contingent water liabilitiesgroundwater entitlements

The water resource plans (WRPs) for groundwater within the MDB region includes entitlements for allocation extraction (in addition to other statutory rights). The WRPs for groundwater within the MDB region include entitlements that permit the extraction of  water based on seasonal determinations of water availability and subsequently announced allocations applicable to such entitlements, (in addition to other statutory rights). The right to extract water under these entitlements is dependent on sufficient recharge for water availability that determines whether entitlement holders receive 100% allocation. Water availability is outside the control of the management of the region. Therefore, the rights associated with the entitlements for groundwater allocation extraction in the MDB region are considered to be contingent water liabilities. The total volume of the entitlements (excluding supplementary entitlements) for allocation extraction in the region is 2,104,338 ML.

Contingent water liabilitiesother statutory groundwater rights

The WRPs for groundwater within the MDB region includes 207,855 ML groundwater basic rights (including land owner basic rights, and mining rights not under water access entitlements). The right to extract water under these basic rights is dependent on sufficient recharge for water availability. In addition, the actual use of water is contingent on when right holders extract water. Therefore, the rights associated with groundwater basic rights in the MDB region are considered to be contingent water liabilities.

Contingent water liabilitiessurface water entitlements for allocated diversion

The WRPs for surface WRP areas within the MDB region includes entitlements that may create a water liability (entitlements for allocation diversion). These entitlements are dependent on sufficient rainfall and subsequent water availability that determines whether entitlement holders receive 100% allocation. Rainfall and subsequent water availability is outside the control of the management of the region. Therefore, the rights associated with the entitlements for surface water allocation diversion in a WRP area are considered to be contingent water liabilities. The total volume of the entitlements, including environmental entitlements, for allocation diversion in the MDB region is 12,561,743 ML.

Contingent water liabilitiessurface water entitlements for non-allocated diversion

The WRPs for surface water within the MDB region includes 4,837,214 ML surface water access entitlements that give access to unregulated flow, (including supplementary entitlements within regulated systems and environmental entitlements). The right to divert water under these entitlements is dependent on sufficient depth of water and flow at the source. In addition, the actual use of water is contingent on when entitlement holders divert water. Therefore, the rights associated with these entitlements in the MDB region are considered to be contingent water liabilities.

Contingent water liabilitiesother statutory surface water rights

The WRPs for surface water within the MDB region includes 68,210 ML surface water basic rights (including land owner basic rights, riparian rights, and mining rights not under water access entitlements). The right to divert water under these basic rights is dependent on sufficient depth of water and flow at the source. In addition, the actual use of water is contingent on when right holders divert water. Therefore, the rights associated with surface water basic rights in the MDB region are considered to be contingent water liabilities.