The health of the Murray and the availability of water is critical to the Riverland�s existence.
There is increasing evidence that the water resources of a number of catchments and aquifers within the Murray-Darling Basin are seriously over-allocated or over-used. These are related but different terms:
– over-allocation is where more entitlements have been issued in a system than can be sustained
– over-use is where more water is allocated to irrigators or other users within a given period than can be sustained.
This situation has arisen as a result of past decisions by state and territory governments to issue more entitlements than can be delivered by water systems, and by a failure in water sharing plans to set the pool of water available for consumption at sustainable levels.
Water Trading is carried out under Schedule E of the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement. Water users in the upper River Murray, the River Murray in South Australia and the regulated reaches of the Goulburn, Campaspe, Loddon and Murrumbidgee river systems will be able to buy and sell permanent water entitlements across these areas.
Water trading within states has been possible since the late 1980s. In 1998, the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council established a pilot interstate water trading project that allowed limited interstate trade of permanent water entitlements. Water users in the South Australia River Murray and the Mallee regions of Victoria and New South Wales were able to buy and sell water across state boundaries.