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Southern Rural Water has had a record-breaking year with 80% delivery efficiency in the Macalister Irrigation District (MID) for 2016/17. This beats the previous record of 75% set in 2015/16.

Manager Water Supply East, Terry Clapham, said this was a remarkable achievement and that such efficiencies are even more important, given the outlook for a drier 2017/18 season. SRW has confirmed that the opening allocation for 2017/18 will be 45% of High Reliability Water Shares.

The short to medium-term outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology is for a high chance of a drier than normal winter and spring. SRW records show a lower than average rainfall and inflow to storages since December.

The allocation is reviewed regularly throughout the season and is adjusted to take into account future rainfall and inflows into the storage.

“Lake Glenmaggie is currently 26%, but it is one of the most reliable storages in Australia, having failed to fill only five times in 42 years,” Mr Clapham said.  SRW also holds a reserve in the Thomson Dam which is currently 33,700 megalitres, around 75% of capacity. “This means we can provide a higher opening allocation for customers, allowing them to plan water use for the coming season,” he said.

Modernisation works in the district since the early 2000s and the Lifeblood maintenance program have supported improved water efficiencies. Mr Clapham said this latest efficiency increase represented a significant milestone. Channel automation, more efficient outlet controls and the $5.4m Willang Yarn balancing storage at Denison have meant that 80% of the water released to irrigators from Lake Glenmaggie and Cowwarr Weir is being delivered for on-farm use.