Delivering water in the Murray system has always been challenging, and although shortfalls in the Murray below Barmah have been rare, the risk of a shortfall is increasing. A shortfall occurs when water that is allocated and entitled to be used cannot be delivered when and where it is needed.

Jointly Basin state governments and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority are working together to help manage these risks, but we know that delivering water through complex and connected river systems that are changing means the risk of a shortfall can never be managed to zero. That is why it is important to have plans in place.

The Victorian Government is publishing the Victorian River Murray Shortfall Response Plan to guide the effective and coordinated response to a shortfall and demonstrate how we will limit the impacts and consequences for our water users and the community as much as possible.

This plan is an operational plan outlining Victorian arrangements for the coordinated response to a delivery or system shortfall in the River Murray below Barmah. The Victorian River Murray Shortfall Response Plan provides transparency in the process for managing shortfall events to give Victorian water users and the community confidence that we are ready to work together to respond to a shortfall if it occurs.

In the event of a shortfall, the plan will be used by the Victorian Government and water sector agencies. It is an operational document that is subject to change and will be amended over time.

Victoria is adopting a new approach to water delivery entitlements that will empower water users to manage their own delivery risks in declared systems. Changes are due to come into effect by July 2023 under the Water and Catchment Legislation Amendment Act 2021. The changes protect the rights of existing entitlement holders in water systems like the Murray, where delivery risks are increasing.  They provide strong penalties in place to protect water users from the impacts of others taking more than their fair share during river rationing.

The Victorian River Murray Shortfall Response Plan will be updated to reflect the changes that are introduced by the new legislation once this comes into effect.

This publication follows a series of factsheets and FAQs that were published in 2021, to help Victorian water users and community better understand delivery risks and shortfalls in the Murray River downstream of Barmah, and what this means for managing their risks.

More information about delivery risks in the River Murray System is available here.

More information about the work the River Murray governments are doing to better understand, and manage delivery risks and shortfalls is available on the Murray-Darling Basin Authority website.