Water prices are now $300 a megalitre lower than the same time last year, as northern Victorian irrigators look to the full allocation of high-reliability water shares this season.
Significant rainfall in the catchments has seen prices tumble and seasonal determinations jump by nearly 20 per cent.
Rainfall since the last update a fortnight ago saw the largest increase in water availability in the Murray and Goulburn river systems this season, Northern Victoria resource manager Mark Bailey said.
"Rainfall on October 7 and 8 boosted flows into the storages to levels well above our conservative estimates.
"This increased the volume in storage and the amount estimated to flow into the storages over the next few weeks."
Dr Bailey also announced the full establishment of the early season reserve in the Murray system.
It is designed to ensure there is sufficient water available to operate the system and deliver carried over allocation next season.
"Having established the early reserve, the Murray system will now have future resource improvements directed towards seasonal determinations against high-reliability water shares," Dr Bailey noted.
Did you know the six wettest winter–spring periods on record for eastern Australia occurred during #LaNina years?— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) October 21, 2020
In the #MurrayDarlingBasin, winter–spring rainfall averaged over 13 La Niña years was 39% higher than the long-term average. Learn more: https://t.co/g1xVB3vqlUpic.twitter.com/DMVEE5Oop5
The lastest seasonal determinations show the Murray system moved from 40pc of high-reliability water shares (HRWS) to 55pc.
The Goulburn and Loddon systems increase from 58pc HRWS to 77pc HRWS.
The Campaspe system moved from 82pc HRWS to 100pc HRWS.
H2OX business development manager Craig Feuerherdt said he believed good rainfall and positive forecasts meant irrigators could start planning on 100pc HRWS
He said the increase in the Goulburn determinations saw prices soften to $140 a megalitre for temporary water.
"Determinations in the Murray took most by surprise," Mr Feuerherdt said.
"We suspect forecast continued flows contributed to some of the increases.
"While there was an early flurry of sales above the Barmah Choke, which saw trades as low as $155/ML, prices have increased back toward $170 demonstrating the inherent demand."
He said H2OX expected prices to soften in the Murrumbidgee and Goulburn and stabilise in the Murray as summer approached.
Mark Bryant, Waaia, milks 280 cows and said he felt irrigators would be "pretty close" to 100pc HRWS allocations by the end of the year.
"I think there will be a fair bit more summer crop go in, I reckon blokes are going to grow corn," he said.
He said he felt many irrigators would buy water to start up next year.
"I've decided against growing corn because I am going to have that much cereal hay, I probably don't need to," he said.
"It was a great year to grow grass, so cows would give more milk.
"It gives you security, not just for six months, if you play your cards right, you can get 12 months out of it," Mr Bryant said.
He said the good falls and increases in storage gave irrigated farmers peace of mind.
"You can go, righto, I have got a huge amount of hay in, plus the water, you can start making some good decisions on that," he said.
Mixed farmer Steve Snelson, Torumbarry, said he was concerned about who owned the water and what was causing the changes in allocation.
"We got a 20pc increase out of the blue, it hasn't gone up 20pc in years," Mr Snelson.
"We expect to see another big hit on the 100pc allocation.
He said irrigators were expecting a significant drop in prices, but it was very hard to understand the parameters on how allocations were determined when it came to farmers.
"It's very hard to read what we should be getting in water, what we should invest in - is it going to come down or go up," he said.
He said it was a "brilliant season if we can get it in the bank account."
"We are looking at putting in 60 hectares of maize grain.
"It will significantly change the budgeted forecast, for that crop."
He said he paid $170/ML for water, about six weeks ago.
Brokers were now offering "special deals" at $150-$160/ML.
"If it gets down to $100-$120/ML I would buy, and carry it over for next year," he said.
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