The Acting Minister for Water Richard Wynne has announced that from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022 a new two-part trade rule will come into effect for Goulburn to Murray inter-valley trade. Read the Minister’s announcement here.

This new rule is based on the recent public consultation on changes to the trade rule as part of the Goulburn to Murray trade review but includes some important improvements in response to community feedback. The rule will give certainty for the 2021-22 water year, while further testing and analysis of complementary interim operating rules is undertaken over the coming summer.

The new rule will replace the current year-round rolling limit of 200 GL. The new two-part trade rule means that:

  • From 1 July, trade will be possible whenever the balance of the Goulburn inter-valley trade account is lower than the new limit of 190 GL; and
  • On 15 December, net trade will be capped to enable the inter-valley trade account balance to be drawn down over the rest of the year.

A key feature of the new two-part trade rule is that on 1 July legacy commitments – which mean about 140 GL must be delivered every year from the Goulburn to the Murray as a result of historical decisions – will be set aside. This year, the legacy commitment is around 142 GL, which will be quarantined from trade opportunity to prevent trade exceeding what can sustainably be delivered over summer. However, if conditions are dry and Goulburn high-reliability allocations are not projected to reach 100%, then on 15 December some of this quarantined commitment may be released to the market to create additional opportunities to trade over summer.

A total of around 130 GL of trade opportunity is expected for this coming year under average conditions. More information on how the rule will work at key points in the season is provided below.

Opening trade opportunity

At 1 July 2021, around 48 GL will be available for trade, before the new 190 GL rolling limit will be reached.

This will be because around 142 GL will be quarantined from trade to meet legacy commitments throughout the year as Goulburn allocations increase. As at 30 June 2021, there is also currently around 6 GL left in the Goulburn inter-valley trade account. However, any remaining volume left in the Goulburn inter-valley trade account at 30 June this year will be set aside for delivery later in the year and will not restrict trade opportunity when the market opens on 1 July. This change has been made to manage transition to the new rule in a way that minimises disruption to the market.

Winter/spring trade opportunity

Once the 190 GL limit is reached, trade will be stopped and won’t become available again until river operators start to deliver water from the Goulburn system to supply traded demands in the Murray. As water is delivered through winter and spring, trade will again become available up until the 190 GL limit is reached.

In response to feedback during consultation, an additional feature has also been built into the new two-part trade rule to allow river operators to defer delivery of inter-valley trade until after summer and make use of unregulated flows in the Murray to supply traded demands, without restricting trade opportunity. This will make sure trade isn’t unnecessarily restricted through winter and spring as river operators respond to seasonal conditions to boost Murray resources.

80 GL of trade opportunity is expected under average conditions as deliveries are made through winter and spring.

Summer/autumn cap

From 15 December onwards further net trade will be capped, with additional trade opportunity only available if seasonal determinations in the Goulburn are not projected to reach 100% or if there is back-trade into the Goulburn.

You can continue to find out real time trade opportunities here and using the Where can I trade tool.

Interim operating rules and feasibility testing

The interim operating rules will require base flows averaging 1,100 ML per day – lower than any flows seen in recent years – in between short freshes of water.

This year freshes of up to 6,000 ML per day will be trialled in late spring/early summer and in autumn, in line with times when larger freshes have been delivered before to ecological benefit. Trialling larger freshes of water this year won’t create additional trade opportunity, but will help to provide more information about how we can use larger freshes of water to deliver inter-valley trade in future without increasing delivery risks.

A smaller fresh of up to 3,000 ML per day will be delivered during summer, peaking in early February, but only after a prescribed period of at least six weeks of lower flows has been met. In response to community feedback, this year further scientific assessment and monitoring will be undertaken in partnership with Traditional Owners and environmental managers to better understand how the river would likely respond to larger summer freshes before they are pursued.

A feasibility study will also assess the impact of larger freshes on privately owned infrastructure and options for moving potentially impacted irrigation pumps. The outcomes of this work, further scientific assessment and first year of monitoring will all be made publicly available and will help inform a decision on long term trade and operating rules for 1 July 2022.

Closing the Loop on consultation

This announcement follows the completion of recent consultation on the Goulburn to Murray trade review regulatory impact statement, with submissions open from 22 March to 9 May 2021. Through consultation we heard strong, mixed views on operating rules – we’ve taken on board feedback and any lessons from this summer and autumn will also make sure that long-term trade and operating rules can be made using the best available information. The outcomes of monitoring, additional scientific assessment and feasibility testing will be made public next year, ahead of a decision on long-term trade and operating rules for 1 July 2022.

The regulatory impact statement also assessed options for tagged water use restrictions, including for the Lower Broken Creek. Further consultation will be undertaken with Lower Broken Creek customers in coming months to design a new tagged water use rule that is specific to that system, to enable sustainable thresholds for tagged water use year-round. A decision on enduring tagged water use regulations, including the new Lower Broken Creek tagged use rule, will be made prior to December 2021.

We would like to thank all those who made submissions or responded to the online survey as part of consultation on the regulatory impact statement. Submissions and survey responses are publicly available on-line:, and have been summarised in a now published Closing the Loop report.

To register for further updates on the Goulburn to Murray trade review, email