Overview

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) recently held public consultation on proposed changes to operating rules and trade rules to ensure that water traded from the Goulburn to the Murray can be delivered without unacceptable impacts on the environment or the reliability of other entitlements.

Delivering water from the Goulburn inter-valley trade account during summer and autumn to support water requirements of the Murray system caused significant environmental damage to the lower Goulburn River over the two irrigation seasons of 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Updates

The Closing the Loop report has been released

DELWP recently completed consultation on the Goulburn to Murray trade review regulatory impact statement, with submissions open from 22 March to 9 May 2021.

Through consultation we heard strong, mixed views on operating rules. We’ve taken this feedback on board and are putting in place interim operating rules that will build on the past two years of interim arrangements and enable us to learn more this year from delivering flows in a lower, more variable pattern. Any lessons from this coming summer and autumn will further ensure that long-term trade and operating rules can be made using the best available information. The outcomes of monitoring, additional scientific assessment and feasibility testing will be made public next year, ahead of a decision on long-term trade and operating rules for 1 July 2022.

The regulatory impact statement also assessed options for tagged water use restrictions, including for the Lower Broken Creek. Further consultation will be undertaken with Lower Broken Creek customers in coming months to design a new tagged water use rule that is specific to that system, to enable sustainable thresholds for tagged water use year-round. A decision on enduring tagged water use regulations, including the new Lower Broken Creek tagged use rule, will be made prior to December 2021.

We would like to thank all those who made submissions or responded to the online survey as part of consultation on the regulatory impact statement. Submissions and survey responses have been summarised in a Closing the Loop report, which you can find below, along with public versions of the submissions we received.

Interim Goulburn to Murray trade and operating rules will be introduced from 1 July 2021

The Acting Minister for Water Richard Wynne has announced that from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022 a new two-part trade rule will come into effect for Goulburn to Murray inter-valley trade. Read the Minister’s announcement here: https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/interim-trade-and-operating-rules-goulburn-river.

This interim rule is based on the recent public consultation on changes to the trade rule as part of the Goulburn to Murray trade review but includes some important improvements in response to community feedback. The rule will give certainty for the 2021-22 water year, while further testing and analysis of complementary interim operating rules is undertaken over the coming summer.

More information on how the interim trade rule will work can be found on the Victorian Water Register website at https://www.waterregister.vic.gov.au/about/news/34.

The Acting Minister for Water has also announced that new operating rules will be trialled over this summer and autumn to build on the last two years of interim operating arrangements. The new interim operating rules will enable similar volumes of water to be delivered from the Goulburn system, but in a more ecologically sustainable pattern.

The interim operating rules will require base flows averaging 1,100 ML per day – lower than any flows seen in recent years – in between short freshes of water.

This year short higher volume releases (pulses) of up to 6,000 ML per day will be trialled in late spring/early summer and in autumn, in line with times when environmental water managers have released larger volumes of water before. Trialling larger releases of water this year will not create additional trade opportunity, but will help to provide more information about how we can use larger freshes of water to deliver inter-valley trade in future without increasing delivery risks. A smaller pulse of up to 3,000 ML per day will be delivered during summer, peaking in early February, but only after a prescribed period of lower base flows has been met.

In response to community feedback, this year further scientific assessment and monitoring will be undertaken in partnership with Traditional Owners and environmental managers to better understand how the river would likely respond to larger mid-summer pulses before they are pursued. A feasibility study will also assess the impact of short higher volume releases of water on privately owned infrastructure and options for relocating privately owned in-channel irrigation pumps.

The outcomes of this work, further scientific assessment and first year of monitoring will all be made publicly available and will help inform a decision on long term trade and operating rules for 1 July 2022.

Closing the Loop report - Goulburn to Murray trade review regulatory impact statement consultation, March-April 2021

Submissions to regulatory impact statement consultation

Public versions of the submissions we received can be accessed via the links below.

Goulburn to Murray trade review

Australian Platypus Conservancy
PDF (552.80 KB)
Central Irrigation Trust
PDF (151.75 KB)
Commonwealth Environmental Water Office
PDF (253.51 KB)

Background

Consultation on Goulburn to Murray trade review regulatory impact statement

Following public feedback on our initial consultation paper last year, DELWP prepared a Goulburn to Murray trade review regulatory impact statement (RIS) that assessed refined trade rule options based on what we heard from the community and identified new operating rules for lower, more variable flows based on advice from an independent scientific panel. The RIS also includd long-term options for restricting tagged water use to continue the interim restrictions in place since 2019 that means tagged water cannot be used when trade is closed.

As part of the Goulburn to Murray Trade Review, proposed long-term changes for managing trade between the Goulburn system and the Lower Broken Creek were also identified in the RIS, building on what we heard through consultation last year. A separate consultation paper was prepared that explored in more detail the unique circumstances of this trading zone, and how the zone could be treated under the proposed changes to the Goulburn to Murray inter-valley trade rules.

Consultation on the RIS was held over March-April 2021 and included a mixture of online webinars, online drop-in sessions and small group face to face consultation undertaken in line with Covid-19 health advice.

Below you can access the RIS and attachments.

Closing the loop on initial consultation in 2020

In March 2020, DELWP released a paper for public consultation exploring how operating rules set by environmental thresholds interact with possible changes to trade rules. DELWP prepared a set of questions to help us gather relevant information and encouraged submissions in response to the consultation paper.

Thank you to all who provided feedback on the initial consultation paper. The Closing the Loop - Initial Consultation report brings together what we heard from the community. Information on interim measures and our next steps can be found at https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/delivering-basin-wa....

Public versions of the submissions we received can be accessed via the links below.

Submissions from 2020 consultation - Goulburn to Murray Trade Rule Review

Almond Board of Australia
PDF (326.91 KB)
Australian Fishing Trade Association
PDF (173.83 KB)
Australian Trout Foundation
PDF (136.98 KB)
Commonwealth Environmental Water Office
PDF (160.57 KB)

Initial consultations in April 2020

All public face-to-face consultation for the initial Goulburn to Murray trade rule review were cancelled due to the emerging health crisis arising from Covid-19.

Public meetings were replaced with webinars to minimise face-to-face contact. For those who could not attend the sessions, we encourage you to listen to the recorded webinar below.

Goulburn to Murray trade rule review - Presentation

Lower Broken Creek - initial consultations

Consultation for customers on the Lower Broken Creek about changes to trade rules in the Lower Broken Creek trading zone 6B

In June 2020, DELWP held two meetings specifically for customers in the Lower Broken Creek to discuss the issues and proposed options for how the Lower Broken Creek could be managed in the future.

The Department encourages all Lower Broken Creek customers who could not attend one of the two sessions, to listen to the recorded webinar below, so you have the opportunity to hear about the issues and options presented for community feedback.

Collection notice

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is committed to protecting personal information provided by you in accordance with the principles of the Victorian privacy laws.

The information you provide may be used to inform the Goulburn to Murray Trade Rule Review and to send you updates about the program.

The information you provide will be made available to officers of DELWP for the purposes of conducting the Review, and may be used to inform future policy development work of the Victorian Government. Please note that information from the survey and submissions may be published on this website or in a summary ‘Closing the Loop’ report.

The information you provide will only be published after redacting personal contact information mentioned in your submission. Personal contact information here relates to individuals only and includes address, phone numbers or email addresses. Your name will be published, unless you advise otherwise. If you are making comment as an organisation, the name and contact details of your organisation will be published, unless you advise otherwise. If you do not wish your submission to be published or to have content from your submission quoted in response to consultation, please state clearly in your submission that you wish for it to remain confidential.

Publishing the information we have gathered will enable us to provide valuable feedback to the community about what we heard during the consultation period. You may access the information you have provided to the department by emailing the Retail Water Entitlements and Markets team at water.markets@delwp.vic.gov.au.

More information about DELWP's privacy policy is available via the link below:

https://www2.delwp.vic.gov.au/privacy