The total amount of water in the Murray-Darling Basin dams has dropped below the 50% mark, with the governing authority calling for irrigators, industry and environmental organisations to keep a close watch on their consumption.
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has flagged its concerns, saying that the recent data shows a fall of over 25% over the last year.
The MDBA’s head of River Operations, Andrew Reynolds, said that in a climate as variable as the Murray–Darling Basin's it was normal for water storage levels to fluctuate, which meant business managers, including farmers, needed to take into account the possibility of decreasing water availability when planning ahead.
"Across the Basin, we have 10,848 gigalitres of water in storage right now, which translates to 49 per cent of capacity. This time last year storages were at 71 per cent," said Mr Reynolds.
"The last time we had a similar level of water in storage at the start of November was in 2015, when the dams were 44 per cent full. In the course of that season we saw levels drop to a low of 25 per cent in February before heavy winter and spring rains in the southern Basin returned the dams to 82 per cent by the start of November 2016.