Water

Changes to tagged ABA’s

20 August 2019

The Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville released a media statement today outlining changes to the Goulburn Inter Valley Trade (IVT) to protect the waterway.

The increasing demand for water in the lower Murray region has resulted in increasing volumes of water coming out of the Goulburn River. Over 400GL was delivered out of the Goulburn in 2018-19 – a massive jump from 60GL in 2013-14. This has increased deliver has had detrimental environmental impacts including river bank erosion and loss of vegetation.

Three key actions are being undertaken by the Government;

  1. An interim operational regime that achieves variable summer flows in the Goulburn well below recent volumes, to be implemented before the high-risk period begins this summer.
  2. Ensuring that from December all trades from the Goulburn system, including water use from tagged accounts, will be treated consistently with Victorian rules for inter-valley trade and in line with Basin Plan trading rules.
  3. The start of public consultation in January next year about long-term options to change the current Goulburn to Murray trade rule to maximise trade opportunities within environmental thresholds.

Points 1 & 2 are the interesting ones for the water market in the short term.

Reading between the lines of the first dot point, the operational changes are likely to limit the timeframes that high flows can be pushed down the Goulburn to reduce environmental impacts. The consequence of this could be a reduction of the total volume which can be delivered into the Murray.

Changing the operational regime raises several questions including; How does this affect operation of the Murray ie increased demand though the Barmah Choke? Will this extend the period before the Goulburn IVT opens allowing water to trade into the Murray? What impact does this have on water availability (and prices) in the Murray?

The changes stated in the second dot point have been on the cards for a long time. A tagged ABA allows a landowner in the Murray 7 to use allocation from the Goulburn system. Until now, those landowners have been able to order and use the water even when the Goulburn IVT is closed. In recent years, usage through tagged Allocation Bank Accounts (ABA’s) has increased as irrigators sought to find the lowest priced water.

H2OX agree that the tagged accounts should abide by the MDBP trading rules. We acknowledge this change will impact irrigators – both those who make use of tagged accounts and those in with entitlement in the Goulburn.

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