Who Got the Irrigation Water This Season and Why: Water Trade and Water Policy

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24 June 2022


The connected southern Murray-Darling Basin extends across northern Victoria, southern New South Wales, and parts of South Australia.  The southern Basin comprises different catchments, irrigation regions, water storages, and waterways.

Water Trade

Key water trading zones in the southern Basin include the Victorian Murray (above and below the Barmah Choke), Goulburn, NSW Murray (above and below the Barmah Choke), Murrumbidgee, and South Australian Murray.  Water trades between these trading zones, and net trade in and out of zones depends on a range of factors.

Inter-valley trade limits restrict trade between zones and include the Goulburn to Murray trade limit, the Murrumbidgee trade limit, NSW Murray to Victorian Murray limit, and the Barmah Choke.  Water price differences often occur between zones.

Environmental Water Allowance

On the Murray system, in low allocation years, water can be borrowed from the environment and be allocated against water entitlements.  Payback of the borrowed water occurs when water is no longer required to supply the target allocation.  The target allocation on the Victorian Murray is 100 percent High-Reliability water share.  While on the NSW Murray the target allocation is 30 percent General Security entitlement.

Water Situation and Outlook

Water availability is likely to be high in 2022-23 based on current high water storage volumes, high carryover volumes, favourable water allocation outlooks, and a wetter than average climate outlook for the 2022 winter and spring.


To view recordings of previous irrigation webinars, see the recordings page here.


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