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Barmah Choke trade balance and restriction

Barmah Choke trade

How much can I trade? 0 ML*

*The balance shown is the volume of water permitted to be traded from above to below the Choke as of 09:17 am 09 Jul 2020. If the balance is negative, the capacity will be shown as zero opportunity to trade.

The balance is updated whenever the MDBA is consulted regarding a trade across the Choke. Trade applications should continue to be submitted to Basin states.

For more information regarding the Barmah Choke balance please email

  • The Barmah Choke is a narrow section of the Murray River that runs through the Barmah–Millewa Forest.
  • The Choke has a trade restriction to protect delivery to existing entitlement holders and to maintain the river environment in the Choke.
  • When water goes through the forest most of it makes its way back into the river again downstream of the Choke.

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 around 7,000 ML per day. This is the lowest flow in any stretch of the River 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.

Trade from above the Barmah Choke to below the Choke is restricted to protect delivery of water downstream. This means people upstream of the Choke can sell water to buyers downstream of the Choke, but only if the same or greater volume of water has been transferred from downstream to upstream of the Choke first. We will continue to monitor the situation and will lift or adjust the restriction if conditions permit.

More detailed information on this physical flow constraint is available in the Barmah Choke fact sheet.


Consistent with normal operations, on July 1 2019 (at the start of the new water year), the balance available for trading from above to below the Choke will be cleared. This annual adjustment takes into account water savings transferred to the Snowy scheme, resulting in an opening balance of around 25 GL. This is the initial volume available to be traded from above to below the Barmah Choke. This opening balance was announced on 24 May 2019.
More background information about the Snowy adjustment scheme can be found on the NSW Department of Industry website.
From 1 July 2019, the balance will be:

  • increased by allocation trades from below to above the Choke
  • increased by any deliveries against tags established from below to above the Choke
  • decreased by allocation trades from above to below the Choke.

Further information about this legislative requirement can be found in the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement (Schedule D - Permissible Transfers between Trading Zones) Protocol 2010.Click here for further information on the calculation of the Choke opening balance.

Through the millennium drought, the trade restriction was relaxed and trade occurred freely from above to below the Barmah Choke. On Tuesday, 28 October 2014, trade from above the Barmah Choke reverted to the default position and the restriction was actively applied.

Barmah Choke Graph

Recent Barmah Choke Trade Volumes

Date Down to Up (ML) Up to Down (ML) Adjustment (ML) Rejection (ML) Balance (ML)
09-Jun-2020 175.5 228.6     0.0
10-Jun-2020 1,233.4 1,188.8     44.6
11-Jun-2020 30.2 4.7     70.1
12-Jun-2020 446.9 445.7     71.3
13-Jun-2020 15.0       86.3
14-Jun-2020 0 40.0     46.3
15-Jun-2020 710.3 50.0     706.6
16-Jun-2020 3,060.0 248.1   152.1 3,518.5
17-Jun-2020 1,075.0 482.0     4,111.5
18-Jun-2020 483.1       4,594.6
19-Jun-2020 7,525.9 273.0     11,847.5
20-Jun-2020         11,847.5
21-Jun-2020 0 15.1     11,832.4
22-Jun-2020 6,188.9 66.7     17,954.6
23-Jun-2020 4,419.8 271.9     22,102.5
24-Jun-2020 6,589.7 71.8     28,620.4
25-Jun-2020 1,658.5       30,278.9
26-Jun-2020 4,234.5 807.7     33,705.7
27-Jun-2020 105.0       33,810.7
28-Jun-2020 552.8       34,363.5
29-Jun-2020 3,025.6 30.5     37,358.6
30-Jun-2020 1,106.7 738.8 37,726.5   0.0
01-Jul-2020 0 19,886.8 19,901.3 1,700.9 14.5
02-Jul-2020 0 14.5   628.0 0.0
03-Jul-2020 0     4,776.8 0.0
04-Jul-2020         0.0
05-Jul-2020         0.0
06-Jul-2020 0     548.9 0.0
07-Jul-2020 0     14.8 0.0
08-Jul-2020         0.0