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Each water year the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) prepares environmental watering priorities for the Murray–Darling Basin. The priorities guide environmental watering across the Basin to achieve Basin-scale outcomes for flows and connectivity, native vegetation, waterbirds, and native fish. Environmental watering to meet these Basin priorities will also support essential ecosystem processes needed to achieve these outcomes such as nutrient cycling and food production.

Understanding the prevailing and forecast environmental conditions helps us to characterise the Basin on a spectrum from very dry to very wet. Appropriate management outcomes are selected, using the existing guidelines and principles, and environmental watering prioritised to achieve these outcomes. We call this the resource availability scenario.

This Basin environmental watering outlook (outlook) summarises the prevailing and forecast environmental conditions (ecological, climatic and hydrological) as at February 2017. Indicators collected by the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) (rainfall, runoff, soil moisture, storage volumes, the El Nino Southern Oscillation I ̃ ndex and the Indian Ocean Dipole) inform this assessment.

This outlook presents a snapshot of recent flows at some important river, wetland and floodplain sites, and the overall ecological condition of waterbirds, native vegetation and native fish, where information is available. The outlook also foreshadows some of the important environmental watering needs over coming years.

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