National Water Account 2019

Murray–Darling Basin: Outlook for 2020 Account

as at 1 June 2020

  • Rainfall to date has been below average during the 2019–20 year.
  • Storage levels at 30 June 2020 are expected to be slightly higher than that at the start of 2019–20.



For further information on the outlook for the region during the 2019–20 year scroll down this page or click on the links below:


Climate in 2019–20

 Figure S15 Year-to-date rainfall deciles for the Murray–Darling Basin for 2019–20


  • Rainfall was below average across most of the region during July 2019–May 2020.
  • Rainfall during the 2019 winter and spring months was very low. The dry conditions were influenced by a positive phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole, one of the strongest on record, that influenced Australia's climate during this period (see the Bureau's Special Climate Statement for more information).
  • The low rainfall during July–December 2019 continued the drought conditions across the region over recent years. The three years from January 2017 to December 2019 has been the driest on record for any 36-month period starting in January when averaged over the Murray–Darling Basin (see the Bureau's Drought Statement).
  • Above-average rainfall during February–April 2020 brought some rainfall relief to parts of the region. The higher rainfall resulted in streamflow in the lower Darling River at the end of March 2020, which reconnected with the Murray River in mid-April for the first time since January 2018.


Current storage levels

Graph of storage levels for the Murray-Darling Basin region from 1 July 2013–1 May 2020
Figure S16 Storage levels for the Murray-Darling Basin region from 1 July 2013–31 May 2020


  • Storages were 35% full at 31 May 2020, 5 percentage points higher than at the same time last year. Storage levels peaked in September 2019 at 38% full following winter rainfall.
  • Storage levels have been increasing since mid-February 2010 due to above-average rainfall during February–April 2020.
  • Most storages in the northern part of the Murray–Darling Basin, however, remain at very low levels.
  • More information on individual storage levels on 31 May 2020 is available in the Bureau's Drought Statement.


Future commitments

  • Water use is expected to be similar to 2018–19 due to similar water allocation announcements in response to the continued dry conditions across the region, particularly during the first half of the 2019–20 year.