The Minister for Water has announced today the Victorian Government will be taking decisive action to protect the health of the lower Goulburn River, and provide a level playing field for all water users in northern Victoria.

Read the Minister’s media release here.

Three key actions will be rolled out over the next 12 months:

  • An interim operational regime that achieves variable summer flows in the Goulburn well below recent volumes will be implemented before the high-risk period begins this summer.
  • From December all trades from the Goulburn system, including water use from tagged accounts, will be treated consistently with Victorian rules for inter-valley trade and in line with Basin Plan trading rules.
  • Public consultation will commence in January next year on long-term options to improve the current Goulburn to Murray trade rule to reflect the environmental thresholds of the lower Goulburn River and to maximise trade opportunities within these limits.

These actions have been informed by the review of Goulburn to Murray trade arrangements that DELWP is currently undertaking. The initial findings of this review have identified that the current rules are not protecting the environment of the lower Goulburn, and changes are needed.

The last two years have seen very high deliveries from the Goulburn Inter-Valley Trade (IVT) account to the Murray system due to drought conditions in NSW, coupled with strong trade demands in the Murray system over summer. Prior to 2013-14 deliveries averaged about 60 GL and jumped to 320 GL in 2017-18 and 433 GL in 2018-19.

These increased IVT deliveries have resulted in long periods of unseasonal high flows in the lower Goulburn River during summer and autumn, which has caused damage to the environmental health of the lower Goulburn River. If changes are not made, then more damaging volumes of water delivery are likely this summer.

This series of factsheets below outlines the findings of work on the review so far, including the impact to the environment, the changes in trade rules and IVT deliveries and what to expect in 2019-20.

These actions strike the right balance to allow water users to adjust to new rules before they come into place and protecting the health of the Goulburn River before summer. They also provide time to consult with the community about any enduring changes.