Aim to restrict Goulburn River deliveries over summer

Potential restrictions on Goulburn inter-valley trades over summer, autumn

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MDBA agrees to aim to restrict Goulburn-Murray trade, over summer and autumn.

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Victorian Water minister Lisa Neville.

Victorian Water minister Lisa Neville.

The Victorian government says the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has agreed to potential restrictions on Murray-Goulburn inter-valley trades.

Water Minister Lisa Neville said the the MDBA is aiming for a maximum of 40 gigalitres, or less, of inter-valley trades from the Goulburn to the Murray River, over summer and autumn.

The MDBA agreed to the plan to help stop further environmental damage to the Goulburn River.

"My key priority will continue to be meeting the needs of irrigators while limiting environmental damage," Ms Neville said.

"With increasing demands and less inflows to the system - doing nothing is not an option.

"We are working with the MDBA to ensure irrigators receive their water while achieving lower flows in the Goulburn."

Ms Neville said at 40GL a month, the MDBA said there was no indication that a shortfall would occur in the coming year.

The MDBA's Annual Operating Outlook indicates this could be achieved through management of the system and use of tributaries such as the Murrumbidgee.

Minister Neville welcomed the MDBA Outlook and said Victoria would do all it could to guarantee no shortfall for irrigators in the Lower Murray, or elsewhere in the system, while still achieving flows that protect the rivers.

The Outlook shows better environmental outcomes could be achieved, without increased risk for irrigators, by making strategic decisions about the way the rivers were operated, the timing of flows and how water was delivered.

The Victorian Government would not make or support any decisions that increased deliverability risk for current entitlement holders.

In addition to the new flow regime the Government was reviewing the rules that managed the trade of water from the Goulburn to the Murray

It has released a summary of the initial community consultation.

In response to community feedback, and acknowledging the impacts of coronavirus, the implementation of new trade rules will be delayed until the start of the 2021-22 irrigation season

Ms Neville said that should provide irrigators with more time for consultation and to plan for any long term-changes.

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

Victoria has already moved to address deliverability issues by limiting any approvals of new extraction licence in the lower Murray, securing agreement from NSW and South Australia to look more closely at their extractions and achieving agreement that the MDBA would do more work on deliverability risks.

Further consultation on options to change intervalley trade rules will begin later this year subject to public health requirements.

The summary report of the initial community consultation is available at engage.vic.gov.au/goulburn-murray-trade-rule-review.

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