New water year brings downstream trade opportunities for Barmah Choke

A positive opening balance means water will be available to trade from above the Barmah Choke to below the Choke at the start of the 2020-21 irrigation year.

MDBA Executive Director of River Management, Andrew Reynolds said the trade balance at the Barmah Choke on 1 July 2020 will be about 19.9 gigalitres. Each year the MDBA makes this information available to water users ahead of the next season to ensure a level and transparent playing field.

The Barmah Choke is a naturally narrow stretch of the River Murray that limits the volume of water that can be delivered. The Choke therefore has a trade restriction to protect delivery to existing entitlement holders and to maintain the river environment in the Choke.

“While trading water from downstream to upstream of the Choke is always open, trades from upstream to downstream of the Choke can only happen if the same or greater amount has first gone the other way-this is the ‘balance of trade’,” Andrew Reynolds said.

“Each new ‘water year’ resets the opening balance for trade across the Choke to zero. We then factor in any water saved downstream of the Choke for increased flows in the Snowy River during the previous year. This year, that gives us an expected opening balance of around 19.9 gigalitres, so there’ll be some downstream trade opportunities at the outset.

“River managers will continue to assess the balance of trade through the Choke in planning for the year ahead, by considering factors like storage levels, expected demand, state allocations, and climate forecasts. However, at this time, there are no plans to relax the restriction on trade across the Choke.”

The rules of trade across the Choke are governed by the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement between the Commonwealth and state governments. Information on state trade opportunities and applications should continue to be informed by the relevant Basin state agencies.

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