The water flows heading into spring
NOT only has this year’s previously dry winter turned around, but the rainfall outlook heading into spring is now more optimistic.
Storage volumes continue to rise, irrigation demand remains low and the spring rainfall outlook has shifted from favouring dry conditions to an even chance of average rainfall.
This is a significant turnaround after minimal rain fell in June, with only 12.8 millimetres of rain recorded in Mansfield.
Since the records began in 1900, June was the driest June on record in Victoria.
But in the last two months, the skies have opened, with 51mm and 89mm of rain recorded in July and August, respectively.
Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) manager of water resources, Mark Bailey, said that these positive figures come against the backdrop of an improved spring rainfall outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology.
“After favouring a dry spring from September to November, the bureau is now forecasting no strong signal towards a wetter or a drier next three months,” Dr Bailey said.
At this time last year, predictions for a very wet spring came to pass with some flooding, particularly in the North East.
Dr Bailey said there were other climate factors at play last year that are not evident today.
These included a negative Indian Ocean Dipole and tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures approaching La Niña-like conditions – both important contributors to 2016’s record spring rainfall.
“Conditions are more stable entering into spring this year,” Dr Bailey said.
“Meanwhile, a welcome turnaround on our dry winter has allowed us to have healthy water storage volumes.”
Lake Eildon’s water storage has increased 7.8 per cent, rising two metres during August, with the rate of inflow far greater than the releases into the Goulburn River.
Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) managing director, Pat Lennon, said all these signs point to an optimistic outlook for at least the next few months.
“This is particularly the case for irrigators right across the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID),” Mr Lennon said.
“In the weeks leading up to the re-opening of the irrigation season on August 15, and after experiencing dry mid-winter conditions, we were expecting to receive many requests from our farming customers wanting to place water orders.
“However, with recent rainfall across the GMID – impacting positively on all our irrigation districts – many customers are able to delay dipping into their water allocations until later,” Mr Lennon said.
“This current low demand for water makes for a great start to the irrigation season.”
At August 31, major storages were at healthy volumes with good inflows recorded in the preceding two weeks. These include: Lake Eildon, 69 per cent (up 6 per cent); Dartmouth Dam, 82 per cent (up 3 per cent); Hume Dam, 88 per cent (up 9 per cent); Waranga Basin, 82 per cent (up 9 per cent).
POSITIVE OUTLOOK: The spring rains season should now be better than first thought, and after good amounts of rain over the past two months Lake Eildon and other storages are in a healthy position.