Commonwealth Environmental Water Office
Update prepared: 14 March 2013
Border Rivers catchment
This portfolio management statement outlines the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office's (CEWO) potential approach to the use, carryover and trade of Commonwealth environmental water in the Border Rivers catchment (NSW and QLD) for the remainder of the 2012-13 water year.
This statement will continue to be updated as the approach to portfolio management is adjusted in response to actual seasonal conditions. The next routine update is anticipated around June/July 2013, however further updates may be released in response to a significant change in circumstances.
Recent Water Availability
The Border Rivers catchment commenced 2012-13 with very high levels of water availability. All regulated entitlements in NSW Border Rivers and Queensland Macintyre Brook received opening allocations of 100%. In early October, the accounts of NSW general security B class entitlements were reset to 100%.
Hot and dry conditions have prevailed over summer, resulting in major public water storages being drawn down. Rain events in January and February resulted in substantial dam inflows. Pindari, Glenlyon and Coolmunda Dams are at approximately 62%, 91% and 100% of capacity respectively.
|Entitlement type||Entitlement Held (GL)||Carryover from 2011-12 (GL)||New Allocations in 2012-13 (GL)||Estimated water that has been delivered in 2012-13 (GL)||Current Commonwealth allocations (GL)|
|NSW Border Rivers (General Security B)||0.3||0.3||0.0||0.3||0.0|
|QLD Border Rivers (Medium Security)||10.5||8.8||0.0||0.6||8.2|
|QLD Macintyre Brook (Medium Security)||0.2||0.0||0.2||0.0||0.2|
|QLD Border Rivers (Unsupplemented)||1.2||0.0||1.0||1.0||Up to 1.4GL, subject to trigger flows and state accounting rules|
|Total||12.2||9.1||1.2||1.9||8.4 - 9.8|
- Slight discrepancies may exist due to rounding.
Note: In accordance with the Water Sharing Plan for the NSW Border Rivers Regulated River Water Source 2009 (NSW) and the Border Rivers Resource Operations Plan 2008 (QLD):
- NSW Border Rivers (General security) account balance, carryover and use limited to 100% of the entitlement held.
- QLD Border Rivers (Medium security) account balance and carryover limited to 85% of the nominal volume. Water may be delivered or sold prior to an allocation announcement to free account space to receive further allocations up to the use limit of 100% of the nominal volume.
- Macintyre Brook (Medium Security) account balance and use limited to 100% of the entitlement held. Carryover limited to 445 ML (based on share of dam).
- Limits are expressed as a percentage of the entitlement held.
- QLD unsupplemented entitlements: availability is subject to trigger flows/announced water harvesting periods. Contribution to in-stream flows are then accounted in accordance with licensed access conditions (flow threshold, daily take rate and volumetric limit).
Commonwealth environmental water available in 2012-13 (Up to 28 February 2013)
Including carryover and opening allocations, CEWO commenced 2012-13 with 9.3 GL of regulated allocation. The reset of NSW general security B class entitlements to 100% did not provide additional water as the account was already at this level.
In December 2012, 895 ML of Commonwealth environmental water was released in the NSW Severn River, in conjunction with irrigation orders and environmental water provided for under the Border Rivers water sharing plan. The environmental watering action was conducted in order to stimulate aquatic food production, provide migration and dispersel cues to native fish, and to wet and interconnect riparian areas. In the Queensland Severn River and Lower Macintyre River, 919 ML and 91 ML respectively of CEWO unsupplemented allocation has contributed to ongoing natural flows generated by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.
Anticipated water availability and use in remainder of 2012-13 (post 28 February 2013)
The volume of water available to CEWO, and to most entitlement holders in the Border Rivers, is significantly higher than the long-term average. In addition to the 8.4 GL of regulated allocation it currently holds, CEWO has the capacity to receive a small additional volume subject to further allocations being made to QLD medium security entitlements or NSW general security entitlement. Further environmental watering using regulated allocations is not anticipated this year.
CEWO may also have access to up to a further 1.4 GL of unsupplemented water during the year, subject to flows meeting the licence's trigger conditions and use limits. In such events, Commonwealth entitlements will contribute to instream flows that support a more naturally variable flow regime.
Further information on environmental water use in the Border Rivers is available at Border Rivers catchment.
Trade in 2012-13
The Commonwealth Water Act 2007 allows for the trade of Commonwealth environmental water (allocations and entitlements) and specifies the conditions under which any sales may occur. No Commonwealth environmental water has been traded this year within the Border Rivers. Trade of regulated allocation by other market participants was relatively light and sporadic until prices and volumes picked up in November. Recent rain events have diminished activity.
A small volume of regulated allocation could be sold in the Border Rivers over the remainder of 2012-13 in response to high water availability relative to environmental demand, and favourable market conditions; however CEWO does not intend to trade anywhere until it has addressed matters arising from the making of the Basin Plan and issues that were raised in recent consultation with industry groups. These include implementing protocols to address concerns about the potential for insider trading.
A purchase of additional supplementary allocations could assist in meeting environmental demands, however in addition to the above issue any purchase would be subject to a comparative analysis with other purchase options across the Murray-Darling Basin, and the funds required would first need to be generated from water sales.
The trade of entitlement is not being considered. All intentions are largely unchanged from those expressed in December 2012 and further information would be made widely available should they change.
Carryover of Commonwealth environmental water into 2013-14
It is estimated that 8.4 GL of regulated allocation will be carried into 2013-14, with any additional allocations that are received also being carried over. Allocation carried over will be available for environmental watering in the Border Rivers catchment in 2013-14, for which options and plans are currently being developed.
Carryover can be used to implement environmental water options from early 2013-14. Further information about carryover of Commonwealth environmental water can be found at Information on carryover.
Proportion of Border Rivers irrigation entitlements held by Commonwealth (by total long-term average annual yield)
Regulated Commonwealth environmental water allocations as a proportion of Border Rivers major storage capacity