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Published on April 18th, 2009 | by john.weir

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Is the Murray River running dry ?

Reports from Adelaide suggest that the Murray River, Australia’s biggest, could run dry in the next two years.

The Murray river is part of a network of waterways that irrigates the south-eastern corner of Australia, but after six years of severe drought, its slow moving waters are now almost stagnant. The river services Adelaide, the fifth biggest city in Australia, with over one million inhabitants.

Water levels in the Murray in the first three months of this year were the lowest on record and the government agency that administers the river, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), said the next three months could be just as grim. Not even torrential rains, which flooded Queensland and NSW in the past month, have managed to rejuvenate the Murray.

The Murray River and the Darling River form the bulk of water supply for three states – New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia – and the drought situation is now so acute that both Queensland and NSW have had to offer to bale out SA and Adelaide if things get worse.

It is expected that the situation will not ease in the immediate future. Indeed, the MDBA, which administrates water supply on the Murray River says there’s no sign of rain on the horizon.

“Overall, the outlook for the beginning of the 2009-10 water year is not good, and is likely to be similar to the previous two years,” it said, adding that the drought will only break when “above average rainfall occurs for a sustained period of time”.

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