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National Water Account 2016

Adelaide: Outlook 2016–17

Significant rainfall in southern Australia, especially during early September, has resulted in very much above average rainfall conditions during the early months of 2016–17. This may contribute to improved surface water asset volumes and an increase in aquifer recharge. Total water assets are expected to remain in surplus at 30 June 2017. Water use is expected to decrease slightly during the year, which takes into account current and anticipated climate conditions in the region.




Future prospects

This section looks forward over the next reporting period and considers what water inflows and commitments might affect the region's water resources during the 2016–17 year. Figure S16 shows that there is a surplus of 230,000 ML of available water assets and future water rights over water liabilities and future water commitments that are expected to be settled within 12 months of the reporting date.


Figure S16 Water outlook for the Adelaide region for 2016–17

Expected inflows

At the time of publication, rainfall over the Adelaide region during the first nine months of the 2016–17 year (July–March) was very much above average (Figure S17). This has led to increases in surface water storage volumes across the region. According to the Bureau of Meteorology's Water Storages website, storage volumes at 30 March 2017 were 67% full compared with 47% full at the same time last year.


Figure S17 Rainfall deciles for the Adelaide region from July 2016 to March 2017

Figure S17 Rainfall deciles for the Adelaide region from July 2016–March 2017


The Bureau's climate outlook (released on 30 March 2017) indicates a high probability of below-average rainfall over most of southern Australia, including the Adelaide region, for the next three months (April–June 2017). This outlook is influenced by warming of tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures and a cooler than average eastern Indian Ocean. These next three months, however, are usually when the least rainfall and storage inflow occurs in the region.

Given both the rainfall and the soil moisture conditions during July 2016–March 2017 have improved from the previous year (see the Bureau's Australian Landscape Water Balance product), aquifer recharge is expected to be higher than it was during the 2015–16 year.

The expected inflows for the 2016–17 year are based on assumptions made in relation to improved rainfall conditions in the Adelaide region. Since the Adelaide region National Water Account began in 2010, above average rainfall in the region has not been observed. The closest being the 2014 Account where area-averaged rainfall was 712 mm. 

Future commitments

The expected diversions and extractions are based on water use data for the 2015–16 year; however, given the improved climate conditions expected across the region, water use is expected to decrease over the next reporting period, particularly by individual users in the agricultural sector.


Contingent water assets

The non-extractable portion of groundwater in the Adelaide region

The Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board develops water allocation plans for the prescribed water resources within the Adelaide region. A water allocation plan describes the capacity of the groundwater resources to meet demand. The non-extractable portion of the groundwater asset is a contingent water asset because it is possible that a change in circumstances, such as legislative or regulatory changes that alter the extraction limits, would result in further portions of the groundwater becoming available for extraction. There is no estimate available of the total volume stored in the aquifers of the region.