Goulburn River Trading Rules Set

The temporary trade rules for the Goulburn River are about to become permanent. Photo by Julie Mercer

The interim trading rules for the Goulburn River will be converted to permanent rules following a decision by the Government of Victoria.

Victoria’s Water Minister Lisa Neville has announced new permanent business and operating rules for the Goulburn in Murray, keeping flows lower through the summer and autumn, without increasing delivery risk for the irrigators.

Interim trading rules were put in place for the Goulburn River in 2019 and were extended last year.

Over the past 12 months, further testing has been conducted and consultation with scientists, river operators, traditional owners, environmental waterway managers, irrigators and the community to define long-term rules.

From July 1, the government will replace the interim rules with similar long-term business and operational rules.

In recent years there has been increased pressure on the Murray River and the Goulburn River to provide commercial and environmental water, resulting in consistent high flows in the Goulburn River during the summer.

These high flows prevent the growth of vegetation and the reproduction of fish and cause erosion and degradation of the banks.

Two years of extreme drought from 2017 to 2019 saw no trade available from the Murrumbidgee system in NSW and no inflows from the Darling River – pushing demand from the Goulburn River to new levels, causing continuous high flows.

In an average year, new trading opportunities will be around 150 gigalitres, an increase from 130 Gl under the interim rule, while still allowing for prolonged low flows in the summer.

Ms Neville said this was similar trading volume to 2020, and higher than last year.

The permanent rules include an exemption for marked water use restrictions for Lower Broken Creek, while business and water use behaviors on Lower Broken Creek are monitored over the next four years.

“We are ensuring that the lower Goulburn River is managed in a way that protects its environmental health and recreational, community and cultural values ​​while protecting irrigators’ access to water,” said Ms. Neville.

“The new rules will support irrigators by providing sustainable business opportunities without affecting other water users or damaging the environment.”

Garland K. Long