January to March 2023
Following the conclusion of the January 2023 Goulburn water allocation sale, further sales in the Southern Basin are under consideration by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder later this year.
There is no intention by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to purchase or sell permanent water entitlements in any Murray-Darling Basin catchment. The recovery or purchase of permanent water entitlements is led by other parts of the Commonwealth government as part of the implementation of the Basin Plan – further information is found at Water recovery in the Murray-Darling Basin.
General update for water year 2022-23
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder is subject to the same rules and regulations as other Basin water entitlement holders and can use, carry-over, transfer and trade annual water allocations to achieve the best possible outcomes and value from the Commonwealth portfolio of environmental water for the Australian community.
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder uses trade proceeds to fund activities to improve the delivery of water for the environment which aim to maximise environmental outcomes.
Examples of environmental activities include works to improve the delivery of water to wetlands and important river reaches, fishways that allow native fish species more opportunities to move and complete their life stages, and projects with First Nations peoples to grow shared understanding of cultural outcomes. More information can be found at CEWO Environmental Activities Framework (CEAF).
Significantly wetter than average conditions this water year has meant that, in some catchments, we expect that the volume of water allocations will be more than is required to meet current environmental watering needs. Under these circumstances the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder can consider the sale (or trade) of water allocations.
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has traded water allocation in the past. These have been of very small volumes when compared to the total water for environment and are also a small proportion of the total trades made by other market participants. To date, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has delivered more than 14,000 GL of water and sold about 0.4% of that amount.
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder announces trade intentions each quarter and updates them as required.
Past trade intentions
The CEWH has announced that he currently has no intention to trade, either temporarily or permanently in the October to December 2022 quarter. Should there be a change to the CEWH’s trading activities this will be announced as an update to this quarter’s announcement, otherwise the next update will be for the January to March 2023 quarter.
The CEWH has announced that he has no intention to trade, either temporarily or permanently, in the first three months of 2022-23. Any trading activities are most likely between September and March, particularly in the months of November, January, and March.
Sale of allocations in the Goulburn
In early January, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) announced it was investigating a possible sale, or series of smaller sales, of water allocations in the Goulburn River system prior to the end of the 2021-22 water year. Following this investigation, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) has made the decision not to pursue any water allocation sales in the Goulburn this water year. This decision was made with regard to the timing of a potential sale, the amount of water currently being used and held by other water users in the catchment, the volume of water held in storage, and the likely water availability at the start of the 2022-23 water year. Similarly, the CEWH is not considering undertaking any water allocation sales in other Basin catchments this water year.
The CEWO continuously monitors its water holdings across all Basin catchments as part of its portfolio management activities, seeking to use its portfolio of water in one of three ways: delivery of environmental water, carry over of environmental water for use in a new water year, or trade water (e.g., through the sale of water allocations). If a water allocation sale is conducted, the proceeds are then used by the CEWH to purchase water (either in a different valley or in a future year) or to fund high-priority environmental activities to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of future environmental watering actions.
The significant improvement in rainfall and inflows throughout the Murray-Darling Basin in 2021 and into 2022 is helping to achieve a range of environmental outcomes.
Even in wet conditions, water for the environment has an important role to play. Planning for the new water year (which starts 1 July) is underway, with consideration being given to using water to meet environmental needs over the remainder of autumn/early winter and the volumes to be carried over for use next year.
The CEWH has undertaken the sale of temporary water allocations on a number of occasions (see Past trades) but has never directly bought or sold permanent water entitlements and has no current plans to do so.
The CEWO continually assesses environmental needs and the status of the Commonwealth environmental water holdings across the Basin, and works towards achieving optimal environmental outcomes. Further information on proposed priority watering actions this year is provided in the CEWO’s 2021-22 water management plan.
Sale of allocations in the Goulburn under investigation
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) is currently investigating a possible sale, or series of smaller sales, of water allocations in the Goulburn River system prior to the end of the 2021-22 year. High allocations and natural rainfall events may result in the volume of water available in the Goulburn being in excess of environmental water requirements in scope for 2021-22, and the same circumstances may persist into 2022-23 following a La Nina year.
If the sale or sales occurred, the proceeds would be used by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) for high-priority environmental activities. The size of any sale or sales is a matter under investigation, but is likely to be similar to previous sales in the Goulburn.
The significant improvement in rainfall and inflows throughout the Murray-Darling Basin in 2021 is helping to achieve a range of environmental outcomes. This is likely to continue, with the Bureau of Meteorology expecting La Nina to persist until late summer or early autumn.
Even in wet conditions, water for the environment has an important role to play. Aside from the Goulburn valley, all or nearly all water allocations held by the Commonwealth will be required to meet environmental needs, either later in the 2021-22 water year or in future years.