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Crunch Time for Allocations

12/10/2020

 

 

The RGA is calling on the NSW government to pull out all the stops to ensure that every last drop is allocated in their 15 October allocation announcements.

The last fortnight has seen reasonable rainfall and inflows in the catchments. From the 1st to the 12th of October, the Murrumbidgee storages have received 115 GL of inflows, while the Murray storages have received 216 gigalitres of inflows.

Assuming these inflow conditions continue for the next few days, and this resource improvement is fully allocated, we would expect the Murrumbidgee and NSW Murray to receive allocation improvements of 7% and 5% respectively on the 15th October. This would be in addition to the current allocations of 48% and 17% respectively.

RGA President, Rob Massina, said “The 15 October allocation announcement is the final decision point for many growers when determining how much rice to grow. We strongly encourage the NSW government to allocate every last drop”.

“Maximising the volume of rice grown will not only assist growers to recover from drought, and allow SunRice to reinvigorate its Mills, but will also mean a much needed cash injection for the local economy, as growers and SunRice alike source goods, services and staff to facilitate their increased productivity”.

The fact that we are facing a climate outlook ‘Perfect storm’ should be an incentive for the NSW government to allocate the full resource improvement. The Bureau of Metrology is predicting further rainfall in the already ‘wetted up’ catchments in the next week and eight international models are indicating that the current La Niña event will persist until at least January 2021. In addition, the current negative IOD event is predicted to continue until at least the end of November.

The RGA is concerned however that the NSW Government will lock away some of this allocation announcement in reserve accounts for next year. In particular, the 1 October Murray allocation statement indicated that the NSW governments “attention will soon need to shift more to meeting high priority needs in 2021/22”. For growers who are currently contemplating if they have sufficient water to justify their first rice crop in three years, this is hard to stomach.

The RGA is also questioning why a supplementary event has not yet been announced for the Murray River system. Today’s total inflow from the Kiewa and Ovens Rivers combined is just under 18 gigalitres. The Goulburn River is also delivering a significant flow. Considering Lake Victoria is near full, and many irrigators have commenced their rice crop watering program, the RGA strongly encourages WaterNSW to announce a supplementary water event.

“This is a significant volume of water and should be directed to productive purposes, rather than flowing out to sea” said Mr Massina.