In May 2019, the Victorian Government announced a review of the Goulburn to Murray inter-valley trade (IVT) rule to better protect the lower Goulburn River from unseasonal high flows of traded water to downstream users.

The Minister for Water has today announced that timelines for this review are being extended to give businesses more time to plan for new trade arrangements and to provide more opportunity for consultation on options later this year. You can read the Minister’s media release here.

To provide certainty for water users this irrigation season, the 2019 interim trade measures designed to ensure a level playing field for irrigators will be extended, including seeking to extend the interim regulations for tagged accounts so that all trades are treated the same when limits are applied.

In response to feedback from communities during the first round of consultation on changes to Goulburn to Murray trade arrangements, new rules are now scheduled to come into effect on 1 July 2021.

2020-21 trade and operational arrangements

The Minister has secured agreement from river operators to aim to limit deliveries from the Goulburn IVT account to 40 GL or less per month over summer this year - to stop further environmental damage to the Goulburn River.

The volumes delivered from the Goulburn IVT account will influence trade opportunities this season.

Trade out of the Goulburn to the Murray and interstate is possible when the total volume owed to the Murray system in the IVT account is less than 200 GL.

As of 13 August 2020, the Goulburn system currently owes about 234 GL to the Murray system, and so trade opportunities are currently closed. Trade opportunities are expected to open up later in the season as water is delivered and reduces the balance of the IVT account below 200 GL.

You can keep track of live trade opportunities here or using the ‘Where can I trade? ’ tool. You can also find out more about how IVT limits work and available trading opportunities using the new trade opportunities dashboard.

Consultation on changes to the Goulburn to Murray trade rule

Earlier this year, the Victorian Government consulted with communities on preliminary options for long-term changes to operational rules and trade rules.

Overall, there was strong community support for a rule that balances seasonal trade flexibility and environmental protection.

More information about what we heard during the initial consultation is in the Goulburn to Murray trade rule review – Closing the loop on community consultation report, available here.

Consultation on refined options in the Regulatory Impact Statement will begin later this year – this will be another opportunity for the community to consider the implications of each option and have their say on a preferred long-term trade rule.

Continuing assessment of works licences

Last year, the Minister for Water announced that all works licence applications for the Murray River downstream of the Barmah Choke were to be referred to her for assessment for 12 months.

Close assessment of applications will continue for another 12 months for anyone seeking to increase extractions from the lower Murray region, or seek additional extraction share. This will provide certainty for businesses while longer-term measures are pursued to manage the cumulative impacts of growing extractions on existing entitlement holders and the environment.

At Ministerial Council in June 2020, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia agreed to work together to assess the cumulative impacts of new and increased extractions and developments against common principles. This will be done as part of a continuing coordinated workplan with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and other jurisdictions to manage delivery shortfalls risks.