The Minister for Water has received an application to amend Goulburn-Murray Water’s River Murray bulk entitlement and Goulburn system Eildon-Goulburn Weir bulk entitlement in in line with the Water Act 1989.

Application overview

The application from Goulburn-Murray Water to amend its River Murray and Eildon-Goulburn Weir bulk entitlements is necessary to reduce the loss allowances for Goulburn-Murray Water’s irrigation districts in the Murray and Goulburn systems to recognise water savings achieved through modernisation works under the GMW Water Efficiency Project and enable water shares to be issued to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder. This is required to meet Victoria’s obligations under the Funding Deed with the Commonwealth Government for the GMW Water Efficiency Project. The application also seeks to make minor corrections to both bulk entitlements.

More information

What is the GMW Water Efficiency Project?

The GMW Water Efficiency Project is delivering modernisation and rationalisation works that have been identified across the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District (GMID) to deliver automation and rationalisation opportunities and water savings.

The GMW Water Efficiency Project is expected to benefit approximately 1,000 customers by modernising or decommissioning more than 250 km of channels and upgrading or rationalising more than 1,000 outlets. Water savings totalling 15,900 ML long term average annual yield (LTAAY) will be achieved by undertaking these works.

The GMW Water Efficiency Project provides the opportunity for the recovery of water through investment in efficiency measures, which will generate benefits for local and regional communities, reduce the ongoing asset financial liability and achieve environmental enhancements.

As part of the development of the GMW Water Efficiency Project, the Victorian Government undertook public consultation to determine that the project would deliver positive socio-economic benefits to the region. More information on the socio-economic assessment of the project is available here on EngageVic.

How does the GMW Water Efficiency Project benefit GMID irrigators?

The GMW Water Efficiency Project builds on the success of the Connections Project with the opportunity to further modernise the GMID and provide an improved level of service to more irrigators.

Together with the Connections Project, the GMW Water Efficiency Project will maintain Victoria’s competitive advantage in the agri-food sector with greater stability in its agricultural productive systems and providing a more sustainable future for the GMID and supporting further regional development.

The project is estimated to create approximately 1,000 jobs in the region (direct and indirect) and generate an estimated regional GDP increase of $167.5 million.

Why will GMW issue water shares to the Commonwealth?

Water savings are generated by reducing losses in the GMID channel system. These losses include evaporation, seepage and leakage in open channel and meter error and leakage in legacy meter outlet.

Water savings of 15,900 ML LTAAY will be achieved by undertaking modernisation and rationalisation works under the GMW Water Efficiency Project. This water recovery is committed to the Commonwealth Government in line with contractual arrangements as part of its funding contribution of $177.5 million for the project under the Off-farm Efficiency Program.

The Project Schedule of the funding agreement between the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments specifies the timing and volume of water shares to be granted to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) as water recovery is progressively achieved and the corresponding funding contributions from the Commonwealth.

Under the Project Schedule, the first instalment of water savings of 7,000 ML LTAAY is to be issued to the CEWH by 4 April 2023 and a second, final instalment of water savings of 8,900 ML LTAAY is to be issued to the CEWH by 30 April 2024.

What is a bulk entitlement?

A bulk entitlement is a legal right to water granted by the Minister for Water under Part 4, Division 1 of the Water Act 1989 (the Act).

Bulk entitlements are legal instruments mainly held by water corporations that set out how much water the holder is entitled to take to supply its customers and the conditions around taking that water.

Why is GMW applying for changes to its River Murray bulk entitlement and Eildon – Goulburn Weir bulk entitlement?

The proposed amendments reduce loss allowances for the GMID that are outlined in the bulk entitlements by the equivalent volume of the first instalment of water shares to be issued to the CEWH by 4 April 2023. This ensures the net commitment on the Murray and Goulburn systems remains the same, so there is no impact on allocations from the new water shares being issued.

Further changes will be required to Goulburn-Murray Water’s bulk entitlement in 2024 to enable water shares to be issued to the CEWH in the final instalment as detailed in the Funding Deed.

What changes has GMW applied for?

The proposed amendments will reduce the loss allowances for Goulburn-Murray Water’s irrigation districts in the Murray and Goulburn systems by total volume of 7,000 ML LTAAY. The proposed amendments also seek to make minor corrections to both bulk entitlements.

Next steps

The Minister for Water will consider the application from Goulburn-Murray Water, taking into account the requirements of the Water Act 1989. Subject to the Minister for Water’s approval, the bulk entitlement amendment will come into effect when it is published in the Victoria Government Gazette.

More information and submissions

For more information on the applications call 136 186 or email water.be@delwp.vic.gov.au.

The Minister will consider any comments received from the public on the application. Written comments can be emailed to water.be@delwp.vic.gov.au or mailed to:

Executive Director, Water Resources Strategy
Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action
PO Box 500
East Melbourne VIC 8002

Page last updated: 10/01/23