A report from the Murray Darling Basin Commission released in March 2008 shows that the huge rains in January did very little to relieve the long-term challenges faced by the drought stricken river system. The total inflows to the river over the last two years are the lowest since 1937. The two year total to December 2007 was 3,350 gigalitres, which is 15 per cent of the average.
The lack of water in the system as a whole, means that even though good rains in January have relieved local shortages, the reserves downstream of Burke have experienced a small or zero increase in storages. The amount of water in the Menindee Lakes has risen to 550 gigalitres, which is 35 per cent of the total capacity. 100 gigalitres has been released for downstream use.
The commission reports that farmers will get a backlog of emergency water that was denied them over summer, but will start the year with no allocations. The situation will be reviewed depending on winter and spring rains. No extra water will be released from the Hume and Dartmouth wiers.
The high salinity and acidity of the river in South Australia will continue to be a problem with no relief in sight. The full report is available from the commission’s website .