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Barmah Choke trade balance and restriction

Barmah Choke trade

How much can I trade? 58850.5 ML*

*The balance shown is the volume of water permitted to be traded from above to below the Choke as of 08:20 am 24 Feb 2019. If the balance is negative, the capacity will be shown as zero opportunity to trade.

The balance is updated whenever the MDBA is consulted regarding a trade across the Choke. Trade applications should continue to be submitted to Basin states.

For more information regarding the Barmah Choke balance please email

The Barmah Choke is a naturally occurring narrow stretch of the River Murray that begins downstream of Cobram, Victoria and ends upstream of Echuca, Victoria. The Choke runs through the Barmah–Millewa Forest on the Victorian/NSW border.

The Choke restricts the flow of the River Murray to just over 10,000 ML per day. This is the lowest flow in any stretch of the Murray. It presents a challenge for river management, primarily because it limits the delivery of irrigation water during periods of peak demand, generally in spring and summer.

A default trade restriction is in place at the Choke, this is necessary to protect water delivery to existing entitlement holders and for environmental reasons. The restriction means that trade downstream of the Choke may only occur when there is sufficient matching trade capacity available in the opposite direction which is called ‘back trade’.  Factors that influence the restriction include water availability and allocations, and high demand due to climatic conditions. More information on these factors is available in the River Murray annual operating plan. The restriction is governed by Schedule D of the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement through the Permissible Transfers between Trading Zones (Permissible Transfers) Protocol. We are responsible for keeping track of the balance of trade when the restriction activity is in place.

Trade from above the Barmah Choke to below the Choke is restricted to protect delivery of water downstream. This means people upstream of the Choke can sell water to buyers downstream of the Choke, but only if the same or greater volume of water has been transferred from downstream to upstream of the Choke first. We will continue to monitor the situation and will lift or adjust the restriction if conditions permit.


Consistent with normal operations, on July 1 2018 (at the start of the new water year), we cleared the balance available for trading from above to below the Choke. This annual adjustment took into account water savings transferred to the Snowy scheme, and resulted in an opening balance of around 32 GL. This was the initial volume available to be traded from above to below the Barmah Choke. More information on the opening balance was made publicly available on 27 June 2018.

More background information about the Snowy adjustment scheme can be found on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website.

From 1 July 2018, the balance will be:

  • increased by allocation trades from below to above the Choke
  • increased by any deliveries against tags established from below to above the Choke
  • decreased by allocation trades from above to below the Choke.

Further information about this legislative requirement can be found in the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement (Schedule D - Permissible Transfers between Trading Zones) Protocol 2010.

Through the millennium drought, the trade restriction was relaxed and trade occurred freely from above to below the Barmah Choke. On Tuesday, 28 October 2014, trade from above the Barmah Choke reverted to the default position and the restriction was actively applied. We issued a water announcement advising the restriction was in place.

Barmah Choke Graph

Recent Barmah Choke Trade Volumes

Date Down to Up (ML) Up to Down (ML) Adjustment (ML) Rejection (ML) Balance (ML)
25-Jan-2019 923.0 300.7     75,707.8
26-Jan-2019 131.7       75,839.5
27-Jan-2019 2.632       75,842.1
28-Jan-2019 82.214       75,924.4
29-Jan-2019 234.8 761.4     75,397.8
30-Jan-2019 751.7 1,210.5     74,939.1
31-Jan-2019 1,396.6 2,193.0     74,142.8
01-Feb-2019 1,946.6 505.0     75,584.4
02-Feb-2019 33.827       75,618.2
03-Feb-2019 20.026       75,638.2
04-Feb-2019 853.3 513.0 -75.6   75,902.8
05-Feb-2019 77.5 430.7 -50.0   75,499.7
06-Feb-2019 174.251 98.2     75,575.7
07-Feb-2019 187.6 1,593.0     74,170.4
08-Feb-2019 195.4 761.6     73,604.2
09-Feb-2019 15.482       73,619.7
10-Feb-2019 51.009       73,670.8
11-Feb-2019 909.8 737.7     73,842.7
12-Feb-2019 96.988 1,747.0 0.0   72,192.8
13-Feb-2019 1,340.8 793.4     72,740.2
14-Feb-2019 232.2 784.0     72,188.4
15-Feb-2019 188.4 537.7     71,839.2
16-Feb-2019 80.5       71,919.7
17-Feb-2019 28.813 40.0     71,908.4
18-Feb-2019 77.16 5,182.0     66,803.5
19-Feb-2019 34.476 1,508.0     65,330.1
20-Feb-2019 123.9 256.2 -52.4   65,145.4
21-Feb-2019 78.541 567.2     64,656.7
22-Feb-2019 39.9 5,894.7     58,801.9
23-Feb-2019 48.618       58,850.5