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BOM predicts hotter than usual summer -

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BOM predicts hotter than usual summer

The World Today - Friday, 7 November , 2008 12:42:00

Reporter: Jane Cowan

ELEANOR HALL: The Weather Bureau has just delivered more bad news for Australia predicting a hotter
than usual summer this year and that means more water restrictions are on the cards for major
cities.

But for drought stricken areas like the Murray Darling Basin it is disastrous as Jane Cowan
reports.

JANE COWAN: The winter rains were described as a shocker.

The bad news is the spring falls haven't been much better according to the Bureau of Meteorology's
Senior Climatologist Dr Andrew Watkins.

ANDREW WATKINS: There has really been little improvement in rainfall since winter. July and
September were a bit better than normal but unfortunately August and October have been extremely
poor. It has been a bad end to the year, the crop and pasture growing season.

JANE COWAN: The period from 2001 to 2008 has been the third driest seven year period on record.

Graph after graph presented by the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne today painted a bleak
picture.

This summer is likely to be hotter than usual and the forecast is for average rainfall - not
particularly dry but not wet either.

It is perhaps a sign of how much things have changed that the Chief Executive of the Murray Darling
Basin Commission Dr Wendy Craik actually sees a neutral forecast as good news.

WENDY CRAIK: It is a while since we've had a neutral outlook in the southern Murray Darling Basin.
Usually it is on the negative side so we are quite positive about that because you grasp at small
pieces of good news these days.

JANE COWAN: But average rainfall doesn't translate into good inflows and for every degree the
temperature goes up there's a 15 per cent reduction in water actually making it into the Murray
Darling.

In fact there've been below average inflows to the river for the last 37 consecutive months and
storages in the river system are a third of what they should be at this time of year and Dr Wendy
Craik says the rivers most precious environments are bearing the brunt.

WENDY CRAIK: Most of those places that rely on a regular flood like redgum forests, bird breeding,
fish breeding, all those sorts of things, do rely on a flood to prompt breeding and to ensure
survival.

JANE COWAN: As far as the cities are concerned, residents have dramatically cut their water
consumption.

According to Claude Piccinin from the Water Services Association of Australia, Sydney is best
prepared for continuing dry conditions.

CLAUDE PICCININ: In Sydney the storage has remained stable, about the 66, 67 per cent since
February. That is managed by relying on transfer from the Shoalhaven water system and that does
allow them to manage their water system a lot more effectively than purely relying on water
storages.

JANE COWAN: Cities like Brisbane and Canberra too are showing signs of recovery.

CLAUDE PICCININ: Brisbane and south-east Queensland, there have been increases in storages but the
largest dam that provides water for Brisbane is still at 27 per cent which is very, very low. There
have been some good rains but they are certainly not out of jail at this point in time.

JANE COWAN: Adelaide is heading for a very dry summer, made worse by the fact that it relies more
on drawing from the river than from any storages.

The Water Services Association of Australia's Claude Piccinin says Melbourne is in perhaps the
worst position after its driest September-October on record.

CLAUDE PICCININ: Look, the picture is not pretty. There is no doubt about that. The storage level
is just below 34 per cent. That is not a comfort zone but I will remind you that the industry has
been criticised for the north south pipeline and the augmentation through the desalination process.

I mean it is important to get those projects in line.

JANE COWAN: And nothing's likely to change until at least autumn next year. The only cities where
there's enough water right now are Darwin and Hobart.

ELEANOR HALL: Jane Cowan reporting.