A decision on announcing the closing date for tagged water trades from the Goulburn to Murray Rivers has been delayed by legal reasons, according to a senior state government bureaucrat.
The Victorian Farmers Federation has called on the Victorian Government to announce the closing date for tagged trades.
That comes on the back of Water Minister Lisa Neville's announcement of an interim operational regime, with all trades from the Goulburn system including tagged accounts being treated consistently with Inter-Valley Trade rules from December.
VFF Water Council chair Richard Anderson said that with December fast approaching, the VFF wanted clarity for irrigators on the date tagged water trades will be subject to the IVT rule.
"In such extremely dry times when farmers are under intense pressure, they need certainty,"Mr Anderson said
"The Government must provide clear and definitive advice."
Murray irrigators within the Goulburn and Murray Irrigation District (GMID) who also owned Goulburn water have been able to 'tag' their Goulburn water into their Murray account for use in the Murray system.
This tagged Goulburn water was not counted against the IVT rule, which limits how much water can leave the Goulburn River to the Murray.
But a senior Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning bureaucrat told the recent Australian Water Brokers Association annual general meeting there was no sinister reason behind the delay.
"The delays haven't happened for any big, purposeful reason, but there are a lot of exceptionally busy bureaucrats in DELWP - there should be an audit report, in the next month, on IVT changes," DELWP bureaucrat Naomi Douglas said.
"It won't be on the first of December; it will be a date in December.
"There are a lot of legal processes, going on, behind the scenes and a lot of legal processes we really can't control."
She told brokers it was hoped a date would be settled, soon.
"I doubt it would be the first of December, I doubt it would be Christmas Day, it will be somewhere between the two," she said.
In August, Ms Neville acknowledged the environmental damage along the Goulburn River, due to large amounts of water trading to the Murray.
Mr Anderson said Irrigators in the Mallee, who also owned Goulburn water, had never been able to tag their Goulburn water for use in the Murray system.
Yet they were given permission recently to tag water from the Goulburn to the Murray which has driven the price of Goulburn water from $500 per megalitre to over $700 per megalitre.
"The uncertainty of this loophole is creating winners and losers," Mr Anderson said.
"Permanent plantings in the Mallee are driving up higher water prices on the Goulburn, Mallee irrigators are unclear how long they can keep accessing this water for, and Goulburn irrigators that had planned for summer crops and budgeted on water staying around $500 per megalitre are now disadvantaged.
"Farmers need to understand their water position now because government interventions in the water market mid-season are challenging."