The Victorian government has started community consultation on managing delivery risks for the state's irrigators, while helping protect the Goulburn River from unseasonally high flows.
Acting Water Minister Richard Wynne has released a regulatory impact statement, for consultation on proposed new operating rules for Goulburn to Murray inter-valley trade arrangements.
In 2019, the Government announced a review of the inter-valley trade rule for the Goulburn River, following two consecutive years of sustained high flows that caused damage to the banks and ecology of the river.
"We're working to protect our waterways with new balanced rules that support our irrigators and provide certainty for the future," Mr Wynne said.
"We know that delivery risks in the Murray are real - that's why the rules we're proposing will make sure that water traded from the Goulburn can be delivered each year.
"We want to support our irrigators that rely on trade without affecting others or damaging the environment."
The arrangements the government had in place had worked to keep flows to more reasonable levels.
"We're now proposing a new rule that makes sure we can deliver trade under more sustainable lower flows," Mr Wynne said.
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The high flows were being driven by low water availability from NSW and increasing trade volumes in recent years.
The goverment's initial review showed the current rules were not protecting the environment of the lower Goulburn River and did not provide a level playing field for all water users to trade.
Releasing the RIS was the next step for establishing new long-term operating, trade and tagging rules to support trade opportunities, protect existing entitlement holders across northern Victoria and minimise damage to rivers.
Consultation will run online and face-to-face for six weeks, closing on 30 April 2021.
Feedback from the community will be considered before a final decision prior to July 1, 2021.
Getting operating and trade rules right on the Goulburn River was part of the Government's focus on delivery risks.
The proposed changes also built on outcomes Victoria had secured from the Commonwealth and other states.
Those include an independent panel to review the Murray-Darling Basin Authority's modelling on delivery of water through the connected southern Basin system, and seeking agreement from all states to look at the cumulative impacts of new extractions in the lower Murray region.
For more information go to engage.vic.gov.au/goulburn-murray-trade-rule-review