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Barmah Choke trade restriction and balance

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.

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.

Barmah Choke trade balance

Consistent with normal operations, on July 1 2017 (at the start of the new water year), we cleared the balance available for trading from above to below the Choke. This annual adjustment took into account water savings transferred to the Snowy scheme, and resulted in an opening balance of around 37 GL. This was the initial volume available to be traded from above to below the Barmah Choke. Information on the opening balance was made publicly available on 27 June 2017.

From 1 July 2017, 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.

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. We issued a water announcement advising the restriction was in place.

Barmah Choke trade

How much can I trade? 2008.61 ML*

*The balance shown is the volume of water permitted to be traded from above to below the Choke as of 02:10 am 22 Feb 2018. 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 watermarkets@mdba.gov.au.

Barmah Choke Graph

Recent Barmah Choke Trade Volumes

Date Down to Up (ML) Up to Down (ML) Adjustment (ML) Rejection (ML) Balance (ML)
23-Jan-2018 449.2 692.4     167.1
24-Jan-2018 445.0 585.3     26.8
25-Jan-2018 453.1       480.0
26-Jan-2018 51.801       531.8
27-Jan-2018 84.0 470.0     145.7
28-Jan-2018 10.046       155.8
29-Jan-2018 5.976       161.8
30-Jan-2018 79.122       240.9
31-Jan-2018 110.4       351.3
01-Feb-2018 180.1 381.3 0.0   150.1
02-Feb-2018 66.8       216.9
03-Feb-2018 9.349       226.2
04-Feb-2018 47.715       274.0
05-Feb-2018 15.102 100.0     189.1
06-Feb-2018 100.6 18.0     271.7
07-Feb-2018 289.1 250.0   300.0 310.8
08-Feb-2018 53.819 269.8   500.0 94.8
09-Feb-2018 90.017 67.0     117.8
10-Feb-2018 0.001       117.8
11-Feb-2018 46.152       164.0
12-Feb-2018 337.7 195.5     306.2
13-Feb-2018 603.5 520.0     389.7
14-Feb-2018 143.8 491.8   300.0 41.6
15-Feb-2018 142.7 50.0     134.3
16-Feb-2018 1,342.3 471.7     1,004.9
17-Feb-2018 19.96       1,024.9
18-Feb-2018 170.628       1,195.5
19-Feb-2018 339.7 750.0     785.1
20-Feb-2018 573.7 80.0     1,278.8
21-Feb-2018 729.8       2,008.6

Background information

Consistent with normal operations, on July 1 2017 (at the start of the new water year), we cleared the balance available for trading from above to below the Choke. This annual adjustment took into account water savings transferred to the Snowy scheme, and resulted in an opening balance of around 37 GL. This was the initial volume available to be traded from above to below the Barmah Choke. More information on the opening balance was made publicly available on 27 June 2017.

More background information about the Snowy adjustment scheme can be found on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website.

From 1 July 2017, 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.

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. We issued a water announcement advising the restriction was in place.