If you are planning to trade water, you need to keep an eye on the status of the trade limits that might affect you.

Trade is not allowed from the Goulburn, Campaspe, Broken and Loddon systems to the Victorian Murray, or to New South Wales and South Australia, if more than 200 gigalitres (GL) of water is owed to the Murray at any one time. Trade will open again when the volume that the Goulburn owes the Murray falls below 200 GL. 

The amount owed is measured by the inter-valley trade account. The volume in the inter-valley trade account can change quickly now that people are using the convenience of automated online trading.

Why is the limit needed?

New trade limits, including the Goulburn to Murray trade limit, were introduced in 2012 so that:

  • the volume stored in dams could supply Victorian Murray water entitlements, and 
  • the increasing commitment to meet the large volumes of trade between Victorian valleys and the Murray did not adversely impact on storage levels.

These trade limits were introduced as initial controls to protect ongoing allocations to Victorian entitlements as recommended by the Carryover Review Committee. The Committee also recommended further investigation into other options, such as tagged trade, to better manage the impacts of water moving between valleys.

For more information on the carryover review recommendations refer to the “New controls on allocation trade” and “Victoria refines controls on allocation trade between valleys” fact sheets available at water-trading/allocation-trading.

Watching the limit

If you plan to trade water to the Victorian Murray, you or your broker need to keep an eye on the limits that apply to you.

Water brokers and people trading water can check the current status of trade limits and opportunities on the Allocation trade opportunities and limits page. Hint: Select the trading zone into which you want to trade.

More information about the components of the balance can be found by clicking the link below the report for “the data that leads to the limits above”.

Reaching the limit in 2017

The Goulburn to Murray trade limit was reached early in the 2017-18 year due to:

  • 133 GL still owed to the Murray from last year
  • 37 GL traded out in July this year
  • Increasing water owed to the Murray to supply the water rights traded there in the past from increases in seasonal allocations – following the 100% allocation on 1 December, 100 GL was owed to these rights

Note that increasing water allocations to water rights traded out in the past mean that the volume of water owed to the Murray may increase above 200 GL. In this case trade will open again when the volume falls below 200 GL.

What else affects the limit and how do I get more information on it?

New trade opportunities can reopen during the season if the inter-valley trade balance decreases. This happens when:

  • the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) as the river manager uses water from the inter-valley trade account. It is up to the MDBA to decide when water from the inter-valley trade account can be used to supply water to the Murray
  • any of the inter-valley trade carryover balance (the water still owed to the Murray from last year) spills from Lake Eildon, or
  • there is trade in the opposite direction (back-trade)

More information can be found on:

Can I still use water from a tagged account?

Currently, the Victorian water trading rules do not prevent the establishment of, or use of water from, tagged accounts between the Goulburn and Murray. 

However, when the Basin Plan trading rules for surface water came into effect in Victoria on 1 July 2014, rule 12.23 introduced some restrictions on water ordered under tagged entitlements. 

Victoria is currently working with the MDBA to better understand the circumstances in which the Basin Plan trading rules apply, and to work towards an approach to allow the consistent and equitable application of restrictions on the take of water from tagged accounts in all circumstances. 

For more information on implications of the Basin Plan trading rules in Victoria refer to the "Changes to Victorian water trading rules" fact sheet available at about/news.

Will the Goulburn to Murray trade rules change?

The Carryover Review Committee committed to a longer-term review of trade rules and options to prevent any adverse impacts of water trade between valleys.

Victoria is currently working with the MDBA to ensure trade rules continue to support the efficient functioning and ongoing maturing of water markets in the River Murray system as part of good business practice and continual improvement.

This work is part of meeting Victoria’s commitments to improve trading rules in northern Victoria under action 9.6 of Water for Victoria. More information about Water for Victoria is available at www.water.vic.gov.au/water-for-victoria.

Other trade limits

Some other limits that can affect your opportunity to trade are:

  • the trade limit from New South Wales to Victoria, and
  • the trade out limit from the Broken system

You can find out more about these limits and track their balance on the Allocation trade opportunities and limits page.