Authorities claim the River Murray will continue to flow at maximum capacity over summer to meet demand for water through the system. 

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority's latest outlook details how the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) can run the river system most efficiently in response to conditions across a range of possible climate and rainfall scenarios. 

MDBA Executive Director of River Management, Andrew Reynolds, said the full range of scenarios from extremely dry to very wet had been considered, and the risk of shortfall was evident. A shortfall occurs when water cannot be delivered to users when and where it is needed.

“We have updated the outlook based on system conditions in late spring as typically we have received most of the year's inflow by then and have a clearer picture of the season ahead,” Mr Reynolds said.

“The movement of water in the river system is now being finely balanced and there is an increased risk of a shortfall should there be a sudden spike in usage in parts of the river where water is not readily available.

“With the forecast of wetter weather due to La Nina, we're hopeful conditions will change from a moderate to a wetter outlook for the coming months, which would help lower the shortfall risk as more of the demand for water is met by local rainfall.

“While we hope for good rain, the MDBA plans for a range of conditions—nobody knows for sure what the weather will bring. If conditions revert to a drier scenario, we need to be ready for it, so we continue to operate the system as effectively and efficiently as possible.

“This year the Outlook considers the shortfall risk to be greatest in late summer because the higher demand for water resulting from improved water availability is tempered by capacity limitations of the Barmah Choke and the limit to delivery from the Goulburn Inter-Valley Trade account. In addition, the Menindee Lakes remain too low to contribute to meeting demands in the Murray River at the moment.”

The updated 2020-2021 Annual Outlook is available here.