Water hits $600

By Alana Christensen

Water prices have skyrocketed in less than a week, with irrigators paying as much as $660/Ml according to trading figures.

There were 10 instances on Thursday of water hitting the $600/Ml mark or above according to Waterpool Co-op trades, while some buyers were able to purchase parcels for $520/Ml as recently as Wednesday.

The price of temporary water increased by more than $100/Ml in just five days, with sales around $490/Ml or below common prior to April 10.

The high prices come just days after the Murray-Darling Basin Authority revealed the Goulburn Valley is set to register a record volume of inter-valley trade.

VFF Water Council chair Richard Anderson said the high water prices were a worrying sign with another dry outlook ahead.

‘‘It’s just not sustainable at those prices,’’ Mr Anderson said.

‘‘Whether it will go any higher, well that will depend on the appetite.’’

Mr Anderson said he suspected it was horticulturalists purchasing the water.

‘‘It won’t be dairy farmers at that price, you’re better off buying feed ... It’s all about getting a return on investment,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s all about supply and demand at the end of the day.

‘‘If it stays dry it’s not going to be a big opening (allocation).’’

Despite high water prices there continues to be buyers down the river according to the MDBA.

In its weekly report released on Thursday, the authority said inflows to the Murray from the Goulburn River, measured at McCoys Bridge near Wyuna, were sitting at about 940Ml/day.

‘‘The majority of this flow is Goulburn Valley inter-valley trade (IVT) water that is being delivered to help meet demands on the River Murray as a result of trade from the Goulburn to the Murray Valley,’’ the authority said.

‘‘A sustained call of IVT delivery from the Goulburn Valley is likely to continue at low rates during April and into May if conditions remain dry. The total volume of IVT called during 2018-19 is expected to exceed 400Gl.

‘‘This volume would be a record volume delivered from the Goulburn Valley, and a record total volume of IVT delivered in a water year.’’

Dry and warm conditions have ‘‘heavily impacted’’ water resources and availability in the Murray-Darling Basin according to the Bureau of Meteorology, as well as consumptive and environmental water use across the area.

The bureau’s Special Climate Statement revealed storage levels across the basin were at 43.8 per cent at the end of March, nearing the lowest levels in three years.

‘‘If the winter of 2019 is as dry as the winter of 2018, then it is expected that storage levels may decline to similar levels to what were seen during the millennium drought,’’ the statement said.