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Author Topic: Murray Darling River Operations Update  (Read 2127 times)

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Murray Darling River Operations Update
« on: April 26, 2014, 12:06:43 PM »
Murray Darling River Operations Update
MDBA - 24 April 2014

The major driver of River Murray System operations last week, and again this week, was the reduced irrigation demand following the widespread soaking rain over the Murray in mid-April. In response to that rainfall, and irrigation diversions falling to virtually nil, releases from Dartmouth Dam, Hume Dam and Yarrawonga Weir were reduced towards minimum flows.

This resulted in significant falls in river levels at many locations over the Easter period as advised in last week’s Weekly Report and media releases issued by MDBA. Irrigators have been able to conserve water to use next year, which may be particularly valuable given that the Bureau of Meteorology is now advising that an El Niño is likely in 2014.

The effects of the cuts in releases are progressively moving downstream where, for example, river levels at Swan Hill can be expected to fall towards minimum levels in early May.  However, there is further rain forecast early next week which may influence river operations over the coming weeks. While less water is required downstream, releases from upstream storages will continue to be close to minimums to conserve water for the 2014-15 season.

Total storage increased by a further 2 GL this week. Dartmouth storage volume decreased by 1 GL and is currently 89% capacity. Release from Dartmouth is currently at the minimum of 200 ML/day measured at Colemans.

Hume storage volume increased by 11 GL this week to 38% capacity and releases are targeting the minimum of 1,200 ML/day at Doctors Point.

Hume Dam this month. Photo: MDBA

The Lake Mulwala pool has been close to full supply level over the last 12 days because of reduced irrigation diversions and the reduction in releases from Yarrawonga Weir. The major irrigation offtakes have diverted small amounts this week through Mulwala Canal and Yarrawonga Main Channel totalling 4.5 and 1 GL respectively.

Next week, Mulwala Canal orders are forecast to increase due to increased irrigation demand and the addition of the Edward system flow requirements being diverted through the Canal. Releases from Yarrawonga Weir are also expected to increase to around 2,500 ML/day in response to an increase in the order at National Channel from 1,000 to 1,800 ML/day. The level in Lake Mulwala will decrease as a result and is expected to reach around 124.7m AHD this coming weekend. If dry conditions persist, Lake Mulwala may fall below 124.6 m AHD in coming weeks to help meet minimum flow targets in the Murray, particularly at Swan Hill.

On the Edward River system, all gates at the Edward and Gulpa regulators are open but diversions have fallen to 250 and 90 ML/day respectively, due to the low river levels at in the Murray at Picnic Point. Flow in the Edward River will be supplemented by releases from the Edward Escape over the coming week.

On the Goulburn River, the flow at McCoys Bridge has fallen to around 1,000 ML/day. Inflows from the Goulburn have kept river levels higher in the River Murray as the Yarrawonga releases have been reduced. The flow at McCoys Bridge is expected to remain steady at around 950 ML/day over the coming week as environmental deliveries continue.

On the Murray at Torrumbarry, the flow receded this week from around 8,000 to below 4,000 ML/day and is expected to continue falling next week if conditions remain dry. At Swan Hill flows peaked at 8,100 ML/day on Sunday from the rain event in mid-April and have since reduced to 7,000 ML/day. Flows are expected to recede to below 3,000 ML/day over the coming week and if conditions remain dry it is possible that the level at Swan Hill could fall below 0.6 m height in two weeks’ time. To help maintain the flow at Swan Hill, it is possible that water stored in Torrumbarry Weir will be released, gradually reducing the pool level by up to 40 cm below full supply from the start of May.

At Euston, the flow is expected to peak at around 9,200 ML/day this Friday before receding. The flow at Wentworth is rising and is expected to peak at around 8,800 ML/day next Tuesday.

On the Darling River, the flow at Bourke has risen to 2,390 ML/day this week and is likely to increase to peak at 2,500 ML/day in a couple of days. Menindee Lakes is currently at 22% storage capacity having decreased by 4 GL this week and the flow at Weir 32 is approximately 300 ML/day.

Lake Victoria fell by around 2 GL this week and is currently at 60% capacity. The average flow across the South Australian border was 6,500 ML/day last week and is expected to average 5,000 ML/day over the coming week. At the Lower Lakes the 5 day average level for Lake Alexandrina is 0.63 m AHD and the release through the barrages is approximately 2,000 ML/day.

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