Rain delivers positive start to season

Wednesday 23 August, 2017

Rainfall in early August has been welcomed across the region, helping to ease pressure on irrigators after mostly dry winter conditions.

Significant rain fell in the North Central and North East regions during the first weekend of August, with good inflows to a number of GMW storages.

Lake Eildon received 17mm in the same period, Lake Dartmouth 26mm, Lake William Hovell 32mm and Lake Buffalo 37mm.

Water Resources Manager Mark Bailey said while it was too early to say what the rainfall will mean long term for farmers, it was a positive sign as we enter the new irrigation season.

“Lake Eildon, Nillahcootie, Buffalo and William Hovell all saw inflows pick up considerably. Lake Eppalock and the Loddon storages did reasonably well,” he said.

Kyabram Customer Service Manager Greg Shannon said in his area the rainfall had been welcomed and meant some farmers won’t be looking to irrigate soon after the August 15 opening of the irrigation season.

“There will be some customers who will still require a stock and domestic supply however this rain means some will hold off with irrigation until early September.

“It depends how much rain we get this week, there are a few more showers forecast here and there. But there is moisture in the ground which is a good thing.”

Rochester Customer Service Manager Paul Cox agreed, and said the rain was helping to relieve pressure ahead of the new season.

“It was looking like farmers were going to have to get straight into irrigating as soon as the season opened but the recent rain may take some of this pressure off and allow farmers to irrigate later, saving water for when it’s needed most,” he said.

“It really is too early to tell how much difference the rain will make but it’s definitely good news.”

Rochester recorded totals of about 35mm since Thursday, while Loddon Valley received a similar amount.

Shepparton Customer Service Manager David Irvine said over the past week his area had received more than 30mm of rain.

“It means we probably won’t have as much demand for water over the next couple of weeks – it’s good news for irrigators but hopefully we will see a bit more rain,” he said.

In the Murray Valley area, Customer Service Manager Brendan Brooks said totals between 20 and 30mm since Thursday had been well received.

“The rain has been very timely. The ground has been pretty dry up until now but the rain over the four or five days has been slow and steady ground-soaking rain,” he said.

GMW Strategic Advisory Committee member and Kiewa, Mitta Mitta and Upper Murray Water Services Committee chair Peter Serpell said the rain was very welcome in the North East also.

“Given that we had one of our driest Junes in 50 years and that July was also below average, this rain is certainly welcome.

“We were saying only a few days ago that we were unsure what the coming season would bring. This rain will top up the stream flows and especially with the amount of snow – this will mean a brighter irrigation season.”

Despite the dry conditions in recent months, GMW water storages were still looking healthy due to reserves established last year.