The Northern Victorian resource manager Mark Bailey says without further rain, irrigators are facing a very difficult year.
Dr Mark Bailey has released opening allocations for the forthcoming irrigation season.
The Murray and Loddon systems are both on 2 per cent High Reliability Water Shares, while the Campaspe will open on 26pc, the Bullarook on 19pc and Broken River system on zero pc.
"It's a very low start, no doubt about that, certainly much lower than last year," Dr Bailey said.
"It's an indication of how dry the conditions were in 2018-19 and the lack of recovery, since the final determination
"It's going to be a very difficult year."
Last year the Goulburn opened at 32pc and the Murray at 41pc HRWS.
"This is a direct result of the very dry conditions, over the last two years," Dr Bailey said.
"Storages have not refilled because rainfall runoff was less than the volumes used."
Dr Bailey noted some recent improvement in catchment conditions had occurred.
The weekend's rain would put some water into storages, but it would take several days to register.
"What's needed now is constant rain," he said.
"If we go for several weeks, between rain events, we lose a lot of water, due to infiltration."
Dr Bailey said the latest Bureau of Meteorology seasonal outlook indicated below-average rainfall across all of northern Victoria was more likely during the July to September period.
The Bureau also said the conditions in the Indian Ocean were likely to be the dominant climate driver through the southern winter.
If it continued to stay dry, allocations may not reach 100pc, even by February next year.
A repeat of last year's conditions would mean allocations would only reach 70pc, on the Murray and 44pc on the Goulburn.
"If we stay dry, and all indications are that we will, we are unlikely to get to 100pc by the end of the season," he said.
But he said it wasn't as long as people might think, since the last low allocation.
"In 2016-17, we had a very difficult outlook, but saw some sizeable floods in the Murray system," Dr Bailey said.
"If there is any good news, it's that we have already made a determination on the low risk of spill, so anyone who has water in spillable accounts has got immediate access to it."
Dr Bailey said more water was needed in the Broken system to ensure carried over allocation could be delivered throughout 2019/20.
"There is currently insufficient water to operate the Broken system for the entire 2019/20 season," Dr Bailey said.
Carried over allocation would be available early in the season.
- This story first appeared on Stock & Land
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