Murray Darling average flows and the flood of fifty-six

A new report, released today by The Australia Institute, questions using averages to represent flows in the Barwon-Darling and challenges the NSW Water Minister’s claims about how much water is going into maintain river health.

Two massive flood years, 1950 and 1956 account for 21% of all of the water flows since 1944. These two mega-floods distort averages, giving a false expectation of available water.

The report comes on the back of revelations of water theft and toothless regulation in the Murray-Darling Basin.

“Current and former NSW Water Ministers Niall Blair and Kevin Humphreys dismissed concerns of downstream water users with claims that just 6% was being drawn out of the system, but if they used flow averages from this century that figure leaps to 41%.”

“The NSW Water Ministers are misleading the downstream users in the Lower Darling and South Australia about how much water is actually left in the river.

“The Barwon-Darling is one of the most variable rivers in the world, so average numbers widely misrepresent how much water is in that river.

Declining Average Flows in the Barwon-Darling at Bourke (ML)

Upper darling flows

Source: NSW Office of Water (2017) Continuous water monitoring network

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