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National Water Account 2016

Ord: Outlook 2016–17

Average rainfall during the typically wetter months of the year is expected across the Ord region, which may contribute to an increase in surface water storage. Water use is expected to increase during the year, which takes into account increased irrigation development 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 S12 shows that there is a surplus 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 S12  Schematic diagram of water outlook for the Ord region for 2016–17
Figure S12 Water outlook for the Ord region for 2016–17


Expected inflows

At the time of publication, rainfall over the Ord region during the first 6 months of the 2016–17 year (July–December) was above average (Figure S13).


Figure S13  Map of rainfall deciles for the Ord region from July–December 2016
Figure S13 Rainfall deciles for the Ord region from July–December 2016


The next few months, particularly January–March, is usually when the most rainfall occurs in the region and when the majority of the total annual flow in the rivers typically occurs. According to the Bureau of Meteorology's climate outlook (from January 2017), Australia's climate will be influenced by neutral conditions in the Pacific Ocean, which is likely to contribute to average rainfall across the region during the wet season. Therefore, given the current relatively wet soil moisture conditions in December 2016 (see the Bureau's Australian Landscape Water Balance product) attributed to the early wet season rainfall, streamflows and storage inflows are expected to be above average throughout the remainder of the wet season.

Overall, the combined expected precipitation (approximately 600,000 ML) and river inflows into the storages (approximately 2,500,000 ML) should well exceed the expected evaporation from the storages (approximately 1,500,000 ML) during the year. 

The expected inflows for the 2016–17 year are based on the 2011–12 year, a period when similar above average rainfall and soil moisture conditions were experienced.


Future commitments

The expected diversions and extractions are based on water use data for the 2015–16 year; however, it is expected that water supply to the Goomig Farmlands will increase in 2016–17 as development continues in this relatively new irrigation area.


Contingent water assets

The Department of Water sets extraction limits on groundwater aquifers to protect groundwater-dependent ecosystems. Only water above the prescribed minimum water-table level is recognised as a water asset in the account. The volume of water that is beyond this extraction limit is considered a contingent water asset for aquifers in the region; however, similar to the recognition of groundwater assets, there is currently not enough information available regarding groundwater resources in the Ord region to allow for a volumetric estimate.