Victoria has released a new independent report by water market experts Aither, updating estimates of water availability and horticulture demands in the southern Murray-Darling Basin.

The updated report has been developed in close collaboration with the New South Wales and South Australian governments, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and industry experts to provide an up-to-date understanding of how horticultural water demands are changing.

The new report builds on analysis released in 2019 and 2020 and provides a greater level of confidence in the projected demand estimates through improved data accuracy. An additional baseline water availability scenario (similar to 2019-20) has also been included to make use of the most recent water data.

The report finds there will be increasing challenges for horticultural plantings to meet their water needs in dry years – particularly in the lower Murray region.

This analysis continues the Victorian Government’s push to improve access to water market information to help water users make informed decisions about their businesses and supports the Victorian Water Minister’s decision in 2019 to not issue any new extraction share with works licence applications in the lower Murray.

With increasing competition for water, Victoria’s strong entitlement framework is critical to supporting water users to manage their water needs in a fair and efficient way. Tools like carryover and trade are increasingly important to allow water entitlement holders to manage their water availability risks. Victoria is also making changes to its delivery entitlement framework to allow Murray water users more flexibility to manage their delivery shortfall risks, protecting the rights of existing entitlement holders in water systems where delivery risks are increasing.