Back to Projects

Southwest Limestone Aquifer trading project

I'm looking for

Southwest Victoria is a highly productive agricultural area that’s supported by irrigation with water primarily sourced from groundwater.

The Southwest Limestone aquifer is the source of this groundwater and is located between Port Campbell and the Victoria and South Australian border.  

Groundwater use in the Southwest Limestone aquifer is capped and the total licenced volume for this area is 80 gigalitres. The most recent annual groundwater condition summary shows metered usage was just 33 gigalitres.

No new water allocation is being made available within the Southwest Limestone Groundwater Management area. Trade is the main way farmers can increase their access to groundwater. 

Data from the Victorian Water Register on groundwater trade volumes across the state shows there is a limited volume being traded in southwest Victoria.
Demand for groundwater is likely to increase in response to climate change and increased trading could free up existing water for where it’s needed most.

The current trading context

The Victorian Water Trading Annual Report 2021-22 shows there were 11 permanent transfers of groundwater entitlement averaging 45 ML and totalling 499 ML. There were 15 temporary trades averaging 130 ML and totalling 1,945 ML. The total volumes of groundwater traded represent just three percent of the total licenced volume in the Southwest Limestone aquifer.

Project objectives

We know farmers want to access more groundwater in southwest Victoria and we’re leading the Southwest Limestone Aquifer Barriers to Trade project to help us respond to their needs. 

The project will help us understand the current challenges and explore solutions to increasing trade in the region.

We want to include a wide range of people and perspectives to inform how we can make water trading easier.

We will consult with our customers across southwest Victoria region as well as stakeholder groups, partner organisations, subject matter experts and community groups. 

We will use several engagement methods and a range of communications channels to promote and inform stakeholders about consultation opportunities throughout the project. 

  • The objective of the project is to:
  • Explore why people choose to trade or not trade and document the current barriers to trade across temporary and permanent markets. 
  • Explore what potential market changes in the area would be needed to make people feel more confident in the market. 
  • Develop a plan of actions to better support water market participants. 
  • Develop a benchmark for market activity and participation that could help to inform future revisions of the Southwest Limestone Aquifer Groundwater Management Plan.  

The Southwest Limestone Aquifer Barriers to Trade project is a joint project between Southern Rural Water and the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action.

Next steps

We will use technical assessments and the feedback we receive from customers and stakeholders during consultation to develop a recommendations report.

The report will outline recommendations that we or the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action can take to overcome real or perceived barriers to trade in the region.

We might be able to implement some of the recommendations immediately. However, others may have implications that will need to be well understood and carefully considered before they’re potentially implemented.

Stay up to date with the latest project updates here.