Full dams in the state's north preclude a potential bumper growing season for high value summer crops, with most inland NSW storages at 95 per cent full or better.
The returns this year could also be made more attractive due to weather affecting crops in Canada and Europe, while a dry autumn and winter at home has resulted in reduced dryland acreage, observers in the market have said. Despite all the talk about looming drought, irrigators in the northern basin are looking forward to an excellent summer cropping season.
At the northern end of the state, Pindari Dam, which supplies the border rivers, is 84pc full, while its Queensland counterpart, Glen Lyon Dam, is now 97pc full after many years at well below capacity.
At Dubbo, Sean Mooney, Ruralco, is talking to water buyers about temporary entitlement for summer cotton and he says the demand is solid.
In the Hunter Valley, it is a slightly different story, with inquiry being driven by drought conditions, he said. Spot requirement in all the northern valleys west of the divide was largely from cotton growers keen to top-up their account prior to irrigation, so they didn't get caught short should the forecast late break fail to materialise.
Lake Keepit was well positioned to service the demand along the Namoi at 98pc full, which equals 400 gigalitres behind the dam wall.
Water trader with 40 years' experience, Rob Southwell, Southwell Property, Tamworth, said demand for irrigation licences along the Namoi was high, as demonstrated by the sale of a water licence for regulated river flow on the Namoi this month making $8220 a megalitre, up $2000/ML compared to six months prior.
"Cotton and commodity prices are great at the moment and a water licence is seen as a scarce asset. As a result, prices have gone up significantly," he said. "There is no evidence of any back-off for water."
Lachlan Valley water users were awaiting a November 5 deadline for a full-to-the-brim Wyangala Dam to spill. If that occurs, those left holding water entitlements will have lost an opportunity.
For now, spot water prices in the Lachlan remain at $60-$100/ML, said Elders water broker Warwick Judge, Forbes. But any water bought now in the Lachlan could also come at an extra cost.
"If you buy water now and don't use it, then it could be wasted," he said.
That factor, and a lack of high value summer crops in the Lachlan Valley, has the effect of reducing demand, so the district enjoys stable pricing.
"Sales of permanent allocations are around $1600/ML from a general licence and up to $4500/ML for high-security water," he said.
"Now that the dam is 100pc, people are sitting on their hands. There's no pressure."
Hume Dam, meanwhile, was at 98pc, Burrinjuck at 99pc, Burrendong 94pc and Copeton at 92pc.
The northern region's storages overall were at 94pc capacity, central at 96pc and southern at 93pc.
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