The water flows head­ing into spring

Mansfield Courier - - OPINIONS/PEOPLE -

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.

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