2023 South Australia Water Allocations: An Overview and What It Means for Farmers

Water allocation refers to the right of accessing a fixed percentage of this resource from the river that you can use at your convenience. You have the full liberty to use it for your own needs, trade it or even carry the unused portion to the next year. Here is a complete guide on SA water allocations and how they can affect farmers.

Who is Responsible for Allocating Water to SA?

The Basin state governments have the sole authority of allocating water within each catchment depending on how much of it is available. The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) is only responsible for calculating their portion for states like Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia.

Once the MDBA allocates water to these states, there are separate agencies that determine how much of it is available to different people and from where they are accessible. This arrangement might vary with states but there is always involvement of a separate agency that supervises the process.

How is Water Allocation Done in South Australia?

South Australia happens to receive one-third of the water share of the available River Murray resources. The agencies distribute this resource in SA following a priority order. This order is as follows:

  • To manage dilution flows: At first, agencies take out about 696 GL of this water amount to ‘run the river’ from the South Australian border up to Wellington. This ensures that their salinity level does not exceed limits. 
  • For meeting critical human water needs: Next, the agencies pull out about 204 GL of water to meet critical human needs. From here, farmers receive about 100 GL for irrigation purposes.
  • For Class 3 and Class 8 entitlements: The remaining water is used to meet Class 3 entitlements, that is, high-security irrigation. Also, the agencies keep aside a portion for Class 8 entitlements which include environmental land management allocations.

How Does MDBA Calculate SA Water Allocations?

MDBA calculates water allocation for each catchment on the basis of their availability. Furthermore, water distribution also varies among states even if they hold similar entitlements. The agencies carry out allocation of water following some simple steps:

Step 1: Determining how much water allocation is essential for different entitlement holders.

Step 2: Allocating the water to different holders depending on the state they are in.

Step 3: Ordering and delivering the determined amount of water to each entitlement holder.

How do Water Allocations in SA Affect Farmers?

Different crops need varying quantities of water making water distribution important to farmers. To carry on with the cultivation of crops that require a high amount of water, irrigation becomes imperative. With sufficient water allocation, farmers can easily opt for irrigation to maintain the momentum of crop production throughout the year. 

You can hire water management services that will ensure efficient use of SA water allocations. This way, you can make judicious use of the available water and even go for water trading.

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