Barmah Choke trade restriction

The Barmah Choke is a naturally occurring narrow stretch of the River Murray that begins downstream of Cobram, Victoria and ends upstream of Echuca, Victoria. The Choke runs through the Barmah–Millewa Forest on the Victorian/NSW border.

The Choke restricts the flow of the River Murray to just over 10,000 ML per day. This is the lowest flow in any stretch of the Murray. It presents a challenge for river management, primarily because it limits the delivery of irrigation water during periods of peak demand, generally in spring and summer.

A default trade restriction is in place at the Choke, this is necessary to protect water delivery to existing entitlement holders and for environmental reasons. The restriction means that trade downstream of the Choke may only occur when there is sufficient matching trade capacity available in the opposite direction which is called ‘back trade’.  Factors that influence the restriction include water availability and allocations, and high demand due to climatic conditions. More information on these factors is available in the River Murray annual operating plan.

The restriction is governed by Schedule D of the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement through the Permissible Transfers between Trading Zones (Permissible Transfers) Protocol. We are responsible for keeping track of the balance of trade when the restriction activity is in place.