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El Nino watch issued by Bureau of Meteorology signalling potential for drier winter despite recent rainfall in May 2023

El Nino potential, Southern Rural Water readies for winter maintenance, district customers adjust irrigation seasons, groundwater tied to rainfall, reminder for river diverters and private dam owners.

By news@gippsland - 31st May 2023 - Back to News

The Bureau of Meteorology has issued an El Nino watch, indicating a 50 percent chance of an El Nino this year, with modelling suggesting sea surface temperatures will be met or exceeded by August of this winter. Despite some good rain in May, a potential El Nino event continues the general trend of drier autumn weather throughout Southern Rural Water's service area. Winter is the time of year that Southern Rural Water undertakes maintenance on its channels, pipelines and assets.

Bureau of Meteorology issues El Nino watch, potential for drier weather, Southern Rural Water conducts winter maintenance

Bureau of Meteorology issues El Nino watch, potential for drier weather, Southern Rural Water conducts winter maintenance

Maintenance program

For Macalister Irrigation District customers, the irrigation season finished on 15 May. There was plenty of water for customers this season, with low reliability water shares reaching 100 percent in April. The irrigation season will reopen on 15 August. During the shut down, channels will be drained for essential maintenance, so customers will need to plan for alternative stock and domestic supply. A new weed control program will also be trialled across selected sections of the channel system over winter.

In the Werribee and Bacchus Marsh irrigation districts, it was business as usual in autumn. Winter will be a busy time, with a big maintenance program, highlighted by an air valve replacement program in Bacchus Marsh, irrigation pipeline works on the underside of the Fisken Street bridge and channel modernisation works in Werribee. The winter irrigation roster for Werribee and Bacchus Marsh customers is also now available.

Groundwater status

For groundwater customers, rainfall across much of Southern Rural Water's service area for the past three months is like the long-term average (100 to 200mm). Most rivers and creeks are flowing well and only one system is under restriction. Groundwater levels are at average or above average conditions for many aquifers, especially in shallow aquifers that respond to rainfall.

Lower than average rainfall in the coming months could mean more systems under restrictions. Thomson and Macalister River and Rainbow Creek river diverters are reminded that their season will finish on 30 June. Private dam owners are also reminded of their obligation to inspect their dams for signs of damage and report any issues to Southern Rural Water before undertaking repairs.

Pictures from West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority Facebook page.


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