Irrigator water allocations predicted to be largely unchanged in new year

09 Jun 2017

SunWater irrigation customers are expected to see only minor changes in water allocations in the 2017-18 water year, with late wet season inflows providing a boost for some of the state’s key water storages.

The announced allocation for the majority of SunWater’s water supply schemes is expected to remain at a similar percentage as in the 2016-17 water year, however declining levels at Tinaroo Falls Dam in the state’s far north and Leslie Dam near the southern border could result in significantly lower allocations compared with previous years.

SunWater Executive General Manager Operations Colin Bendall said storage inflows from ex-tropical Cyclone Debbie and some late wet season rainfall provided a welcome boost to some of the state’s central region dams, however some schemes will still feel the pinch of consecutive failed wets seasons.

“This year’s wet season was later than expected; however we were fortunate to get inflows in some of the state’s drought declared regions – particularly storages in the central region such as the Mary River Barrage and Boondooma Dam that dropped to critically low levels earlier in the year,” said Mr Bendall.

“Unfortunately, Tinaroo Falls Dam in the Mareeba-Dimbulah and Leslie Dam in the Upper Condamine have missed out on any significant inflows this wet season and this is expected to have an impact on the amount of water available to irrigators in the coming year.

“Based on the current level of Tinaroo Falls Dam, the announced allocation for customers in the Mareeba-Dimbulah scheme could be down from 70 per cent in 2016-17 to around 50-60 per cent in 2017-18.

“Upper Condamine irrigators will again be preparing for a potential zero per cent allocation at the start of this water year, which they were faced with for the first time in more than 10 years, last year.

“In schemes affected by lower announced allocations, we will be working with our customers to minimise losses and be as flexible as we can with rostering and delivery to maximise available water,” he said.

SunWater announces a percentage of water allocation for customers in each of its water supply schemes across Queensland at the start of the water year on 1 July – with the exception of the Eton and Dawson schemes which are announced on 1 April and 1 October respectively.

The announced allocation indicates the maximum volume of water available to customers in the water year and is calculated based on the amount of water in the storage as well as variable factors such as predicted evaporation, seepage and use.

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