Major step to improve transparency of Murray River flows

14 August 2020

River Murray communities can now access a monthly point-in-time snapshot that shows what water is being released down the river against environmental licences compared with water for towns, industries and irrigators.  

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt today welcomed the new transparency initiative from the Murray–Darling Basin Authority, which was in response to feedback from river communities and advice from the Interim Inspector-General of Murray-Darling Basin Water Resources, Mick Keelty.  

“The MDBA is delivering on Mick Keelty’s report which shows there is a need to improve transparency, accessibility and information about Murray–Darling Basin matters,” Minister Pitt said.

“The regular and reader-friendly snapshot will help to build a shared understanding of what water is in the river at a point in time.”
Every day, water enters the river at different points and for different purposes, including irrigation, town water supply, industries and releases against licences for specific environmental benefits. 

The monthly snapshot shows in simple terms the volume of flow and the extent to which it comprises water licences held for the environment at five locations—in the Murray River at Yarrawonga and the South Australian border, and in the Murrumbidgee, Goulburn and Darling rivers just upstream of their junction with the Murray.

“The proportion of flow from licences held for the environment will vary throughout the year. As a rule, over spring environmental water managers use their allocations to mimic natural flows, while in summer the main users are communities and irrigators.”

The Flow in the River Murray System snapshot https://www.mdba.gov.au/river-murray-system/river-murray-operations/sharing-river-murray-water/flows-river-murray-system will be updated monthly and will be available by subscription in the MDBA’s River Murray System Weekly Report.

Fast Facts

  • About 20 per cent of water entitlements in the Murray River are managed by environmental water holders.
  • Water for the environment is managed by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, the Basin state governments and The Living Murray joint-government program.
  • The snapshot shows flow rates at five indicative locations for the past month, and will be updated monthly
  • The MDBA’s Weekly Report is updated every Friday and contains comprehensive information about river levels, inflows, storages and management arrangements.