Northern Victorian irrigators on the Murray, Goulburn and Campaspe systems will be able to carry over water for the coming 2010/11 irrigation season with very low risk, under reforms to carryover rules confirmed today by the Water Minister Tim Holding.
There will no longer be a limit on how much unused water an irrigator can carry over from this season to the new season starting on 1 July 2010.
Instead of irrigators losing water once their carryover and allocations reach 100 per cent of their entitlement volume, they can keep their carryover in a new spillable water account. This water will only be lost if the storages actually spill.
“These changes overcome problems caused by the existing rule,” Mr Holding said. “This season some irrigators carried over the full 50 per cent allowed and then had to forfeit water to the communal pool because of recent rains and rising allocations.
“As flagged in the Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy released last year, these new rules mean water users will have more flexibility, certainty and confidence in how they acquire and manage carryover water.
“The environment will also benefit because environmental water managers will be able to manage their carryover water more efficiently and use it at the most suitable times.”
Currently irrigators can carry over water up to 50 per cent of their entitlement, but water carried over plus the next season’s allocations must not exceed 100 per cent of the customer’s entitlement.
Under the new rules irrigators will no longer lose water once their carryover and allocation equal 100 per cent. Spillable water accounts will be an automatic feature of customers’ existing water accounts from 1 July this year.
Any carryover and allocation above 100 per cent entitlement volume will be recorded in a spillable water account and this water cannot be used or traded while there is a risk of the storage spilling.
Once the Resource Manager declares that storages will not spill later in the season, all water in a spillable account will be available for use or trade. After the declaration date all future allocation increases will be credited directly to existing water accounts.
Mr Holding said there would be a small charge for the use of spillable water accounts and this revenue will be used to reduce storage costs for all entitlement holders.
Carryover rules on the Broken, Loddon and Bullarook regulated systems will remain the same as for the 2009/10 season. Further work is being done to assess the impact of how new carryover rules could apply on these smaller systems.
Detailed information on carryover rules and spillable water accounts, developed in consultation with a working group which included irrigation and environmental representatives, will be available from water authorities.