Southern general security availability down

7 % yoy

Northern general security availability down

59 % yoy

Southern Valleys water entitlements valued at

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Dry conditions saw the value of water increase

With dam storage levels falling significantly over the year, the availability of general security water also fell, especially in northern regions where storage volumes are down to 38% on average103. The dry conditions in the second half of the year saw the value of water entitlements and the total market value of water rights in the southern Murray-Darling Basin increase to record levels23.

Major NSW Storages

The major northern dam storage volumes fell from an average of 46% last season to 38% this season, with a steep fall occurring at the start of 2018. The lack of significant rainfall since the start of the year brought down levels to 22% in June, compared with 48% at the same time last year103.

The southern dam storage levels fell from an average of 80% last season to 61% this season; at the lowest point in April, the level was 39% compared with the lowest point last season at 59% capacity. After a brief recovery due to the autumn/winter rainfalls last season, a decrease in inflow has occurred since September 2017 and a sharper drop in levels is evident since the start of 2018103.


Source: WATER (2018)


After the end of the Millennium drought (2010-11), the availability for high security licence holders has averaged 96% with the current season also at that level51.

The dry conditions across NSW resulted in a significant drop in the availability of general security water in the northern regions, with 2017–18 levels the second lowest since 2008–09. The current levels are down 27 percentage points (ppts) on the five-year moving average and down 16 ppts year-on-year51.

Contrary to the northern regions, southern general security availabilities fared better with levels up 7 ppt on the five-year moving average, although 7 ppts lower than the previous year, with the differences attributable to the higher storage volume levels in the major southern dams and relatively better rainfall than the Northern region in 2017-1851.


Source: DOI (2018)

NSW Southern Valleys Estimated Market Value

Total entitlements on issue in the southern Murray Darling Basin were estimated to be:

  • High security entitlement 554,755 ML
  • General security entitlement 3,568,426 ML

The total value of these entitlements in the Southern Valleys was estimated to be $7.62 billion. The consumptive pool valued was valued at $7.04 billion and the Commonwealth environmental entitlements were valued at $575 million23.