The Murray-Darling Basin Authority together with the Victorian, New South Wales and South Australian governments have jointly released a new report on Managing Delivery Risks in the River Murray System.

Murray-Darling Basin Water Ministers have committed to working together on delivery and shortfall risks and discussing these risks and management approach with our communities.

A shortfall is when water that is entitled to be used cannot be delivered when and where it is needed. This new report provides information to water users and communities on the key findings from recent studies to better understand delivery risks in the River Murray System and sets out the actions needed to support governments and water users to manage those risks.

The report analyses the impacts of system changes over the last 20 years in both supply and demand across the southern connected Basin. This includes reduced capacity of Barmah Choke, changing patterns of irrigation and environmental water use and climate change. It notes these factors will continue to pose risks to delivery into the future.

Read more: Managing Delivery Risks in the River Murray System

Who were the largest owners of water in Victoria during 2019/20?

As part of Victoria’s ongoing commitment to water market transparency, new information has been made public about ownership of water. The list shows the owners in northern Victoria that meet the 2% threshold in the Goulburn and Murray water systems.

During consultation in 2019, the community asked to know the names of the largest owners of water. The agreed definition of large from this consultation was anyone owning more than 2% of water in a system.

The Commonwealth Government is the largest single owner of water shares in both the Goulburn and Murray systems, holding the water for environmental purposes. The list shows that there are a small number of organisations who own more than 2% of water shares, including 6 companies. Nearly 60% of high reliability water shares are privately owned in shares that are smaller than 360 ML.

https://waterregister.vic.gov.au/water-trading/market-insights/large-water-owners

A new independent report by Aither has been released today providing new insights into recent trends and drivers of water market prices for allocation in the southern connected Murray-Darling Basin. It also contains modelling of possible future scenarios for water market trends and the potential response of different industries.

The report shows that the primary drivers of water allocation prices in recent history have been annual water availability, water recovery for the environment from the consumptive pool and growing demand for water from higher-value industries like perennial horticulture and cotton.

The analysis has been developed using an updated water market modelling approach and considers a range of factors that can drive water market outcomes, including supply and demand, water recovery for the environment, industry trends and trade constraints.

The report provides valuable insights for water market participants about how water market prices for allocation have changed in recent years and how the southern connected Murray-Darling Basin water market could evolve in coming years under different scenarios – helping people to make informed decisions for the future.

Read more: New analysis on trends and drivers of water market prices for allocation

The Victorian Water Accounts (VWA) team have released the Online Water Accounts (accounts.water.vic.gov.au), moving the VWA into the digital space. The Online Water Accounts is the next step in the project to transform the VWA. The platform will be focussed initially on the surface water basin accounts, covering the surface water and distribution systems chapters of the Victorian Water Accounts. People will be able to use the website to find out where water is sourced through to where it is used by customers. 

The Online Water Accounts complement the digital Highlights (howmuch.water,vic.gov.au) and the 2018-19 Victorian Water Accounts report released in July this year. The VWA team are excited to now have two digital reporting offerings. The ‘Highlights’ explain Victorian’s Water Entitlement and Management Frameworks and show how water trends are changing over time. The Online Water Accounts provide detailed information at a catchment scale about the availability and use of water in Victoria each year. 

Read more: The Online Water Accounts - a new platform to explore Victoria’s water availability and use

Do you want to find out more about making Victoria’s water markets work for your business - but don’t know where to start?

A two-part podcast series ‘Water. Unplugged’ to assist Victorian irrigators make the most of water markets has been produced by the Rural Press Club of Victoria, through a collaboration between the Victorian Farmers Federation, Murray Dairy, Australian Almond Board, Irrigated Cropping Council, Citrus Australia, Australian Table Grape Association.

Read more: WATER. UNPLUGGED. Podcast series

As part of the Victorian Government’s ongoing commitment to continual improvement of water market information, from Thursday 27th August 2020 a reason for trade will be required for all online Victorian allocation trades. The agreed date that the price for the trade was reached will also be required.

This information will be required for all online allocation trades submitted through the Victorian Water Register Broker Portal and the MyWater online allocation trading service.

Read more: Introduction of reason for trade for online allocation trades

In May 2019, the Victorian Government announced a review of the Goulburn to Murray inter-valley trade (IVT) rule to better protect the lower Goulburn River from unseasonal high flows of traded water to downstream users.

The Minister for Water has today announced that timelines for this review are being extended to give businesses more time to plan for new trade arrangements and to provide more opportunity for consultation on options later this year. You can read the Minister’s media release here.

To provide certainty for water users this irrigation season, the 2019 interim trade measures designed to ensure a level playing field for irrigators will be extended, including seeking to extend the interim regulations for tagged accounts so that all trades are treated the same when limits are applied.

In response to feedback from communities during the first round of consultation on changes to Goulburn to Murray trade arrangements, new rules are now scheduled to come into effect on 1 July 2021.

Read more: Goulburn to Murray trade arrangements for 2020-21

The Government is committed to increasing water market transparency and actively monitoring water markets to ensure that they continue to operate effectively. 

The annual audit of allocation trades submitted by water brokers through the Victorian Water Register’s online Broker Portal is a key component of recognising water brokers that meet government standards and auditing requirements.  The audit helps to ensure that brokers meet their obligations to provide transparency of allocation trades and accurate price disclosure to all parties. The audit also evaluates the security of sensitive information and investigates brokers’ knowledge of their responsibilities to their clients.

DELWP engaged consultants from RSM for both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 annual audits. RSM audited all 22 water broker firms that submitted trades during 2017-18 and 21 brokers in 2018-19 to determine how they complied with the Victorian Water Register online Broker Portal use agreement and rules.  

Read more: Release of latest Victorian water brokers audit reports

Victorians in eligible drought and bushfire impacted parts of the State can have the application fee to construct a domestic and stock bore waived up until Friday, 31 July 2020. 

In line with the planned duration of this assistance and after consideration of current factors, from 1 August 2020, the $235 fee for applications to construct a domestic and stock bore will apply.

Read more: Domestic & Stock Bore Fee Relief Ends 31 July 2020

This report is the 16th in the annual series and summarises Victoria’s water availability, distribution and use for the 2018-19 year. In a time of more extreme weather events and extended periods of water scarcity, regular and comprehensive public water reporting has never been more important. Victoria continues to lead the way in such reporting.

For the first year – the VWA team will now have two digital reporting offerings. The ‘Highlights’ explain Victorian’s Water Entitlement and Management Frameworks and shows how water trends are changing over time. Our soon to be released VWA Online will move the VWA into the digital space – it will provide detailed information at a catchment scale about the availability and use of water in Victoria each year.

We have enhanced and updated the Highlights (https://howmuch.water.vic.gov.au/) released last year with 2018-19 data. This digital resource complements the written and online report, providing a contemporary way to engage with water data and learn more about how water resources are managed in Victoria.

Read more: Victorian Water Accounts 2018-19 now available

A new independent report by Aither has been released today, updating previous analysis and providing greater confidence in the estimated current and future horticultural demands in the southern Murray-Darling Basin, and the lower Murray region.

The updated report has been developed with increased collaboration with the Victorian, New South Wales and South Australian governments, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and industry experts to provide an up-to-date understanding of how horticultural water demands are changing.

The revised report gives a greatly increased level of confidence to previous findings – that there will be increasing challenges for horticultural plantings to meet their water needs in dry years – particularly in the lower Murray region.

Read more: Updated estimate of water supply and horticulture demand in the southern Basin

The Victorian Water Register will open for trades at 12 noon AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time) on Thursday 2 July 2020.

Further information is provided below on certain trade limits and factors that will affect opening trade opportunities.

Read more: Trade opening information for 2 July 2020

After three years of very dry conditions, dam levels are rising due to recent rainfall and the end of the irrigation season. The risk of spills is greater now than it has been for this time of year over the past few seasons. Entitlement holders should consider this when making decisions about how to hold any unused water and plan for the new water year.

The Northern Victorian Resource Manager has released information on seasonal outlooks and spill risks for 2020-21.

On 15 May the Northern Victorian Resource Manager updated the outlook for 2020-21 seasonal determinations, with wetter than average conditions forecast for winter. More information on seasonal determinations for northern Victoria is available at https://nvrm.net.au/outlooks/current-outlook.

Read more: Understanding seasonal outlooks and spill risks with return to wetter conditions

The Victorian government is committed to increasing water market transparency. This commitment includes making available new water market information and improved insights into the market.

During the water market transparency options paper consultation, we heard that there was a need for increased transparency of allocation trades, how much water is available and better information on inter-valley trading.

Today, three new dashboards have been released on the Victorian Water Register website to increase transparency on:

Read more: New market insights to increase transparency

Application fees for dealing in water shares and to trade water allocation are set by regulation under the Water Act 1989 and are based on the monetary fee unit set by the Victorian Treasurer.

The Treasurer has determined no increase to the monetary fee unit in 2020-21.

Therefore, the prescribed fees for dealing in water shares and trading water allocation will remain the same as currently set for 2019-20.

The 2020-21 prescribed fees are now up on the water register website and can be found here: https://waterregister.vic.gov.au/about/forms-and-fees/fees

The Victorian Water Register will be closed while we complete the end of year accounting to roll over from the 2019-20 water year to 2020-21.

On-line services will be suspended from 5pm AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time) on Tuesday 30 June 2020 until 12 noon AEST on Thursday 2 July 2020.

Read more: Important info for end of 2019-20 financial year

Community consultation held last year saw a desire for more publicly available information about water ownership and we are asking the community to help us fill in the gaps on what this information should be. Thank you to those who filled in the previous survey, your contributions are being used to improve transparency in Victoria's water markets.

We are now conducting further consultation to ask water users and irrigators about what details they are comfortable sharing to ensure the correct balance between transparency and privacy has been struck. Please head to https://engage.vic.gov.au/water-market-transparency to fill in a short survey, it should only take 5 minutes.

Read more: Further consultation on water market transparency

The Victorian government is committed to increasing water market transparency. Part of this will maintain a current listing of the names of water brokers that meet government standards required for using Victoria’s online Broker Portal.

The Victorian Water Register offers an automated allocation trade approval process for water brokers through the Broker Portal for water brokers. To access the Broker Portal, water brokers have committed to the Victorian Water Register Interface Access Agreement and Victorian Water Register Interface Common Rules.

In signing the Victorian Water Register Interface Access Agreement, the water broker agrees that they:

  • Have clear obligations to obtain correct customer authorisation, and properly notify customers of trade outcomes in a timely manner at all times;
  • Are responsible for maintaining the security and confidentiality of customer data relating to any trades submitted;
  • Retain records relating to the applications they submit and provide these records to the Department of Environment. Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) on request, including for the purpose of auditing compliance with the Agreement; and
  • Must maintain professional indemnity insurance of not less than $5 million that specifically includes the conducting of a water broking business, or similar water market activity.

Read more: Water Brokers accessing the online Broker Portal

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning have extended public consultation on the Goulburn to Murray trade review and updated the approach for talking to the community in light of COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria.

Two new documents have also been made available which provide practical examples of how the trade rule options work, and more background about trade rules in northern Victoria.

Consultation has been extended to 15 May 2020 to allow more time for the public to consider the proposed changes and make submissions through the Engage Victoria website.

DELWP will be running a set of webinars for the public in place of public sessions so people can listen to a presentation and have the chance to ask questions about the specifics of the trade rule options.

Webinars will be run on the 24th, 27th and 28th of April and details are available on the Engage Victoria website.

Read more: Consultation extended on Goulburn to Murray trade review

In line with the trading rules for the Broken system, allocation trade out of the Broken system will close for this season on Tuesday 31 March 2020. Trade applications received after 31 March will not be approved.
The 31 March 2020 closing date does not apply to trade within the Broken system or back-trade into the Broken from other systems.
Available trade opportunities can be found here.