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Published: 23 February 2009   •   Media release

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority announced today that relaxation of the trading rule controlling the transfer of water allocations from upstream of the Barmah Choke downstream to other stretches of the Murray River will be extended until 30 June — the remainder of the 2008–2009 water season.

Chief Executive Rob Freeman said that the decision is based on the extended drought conditions and the lower than normal flows in the river for the 2008/09 water season.

"The minimal net trades through the Barmah Choke at the end of January and the serious outlook for the Murray system means there is virtually no risk of exceeding the channel capacity of the Choke," he said.

"Extending the relaxation rule will continue to enable entitlement holders above the Choke to sell their water allocations to downstream users which will help them manage their irrigation businesses.

"Allocation transfers downstream through the Barmah Choke are not normally allowed because the Choke constrains the volume of water that can pass and we cannot guarantee delivery every season."

However, because of the extended drought conditions and the lower than normal flows in the river, transfers of allocations are guaranteed.

"If weather conditions change and we have more water within the river, we may need to cease this trading arrangement. However, any allocation transfers approved up until that time would be honoured," Mr Freeman said.

Trade in entitlements from above to below the Choke will continue to be prohibited.

Media contact: Sam Leone, phone (02) 6279 0141

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