Water market information

An irrigated farm for vegetable cultivation
An irrigated farm for vegetable cultivation, Werribee South, Victoria

The Australian water market involves the trading of water entitlements and allocations within and between connected water resource systems for urban, rural and environmental uses.

Although Australia’s water market has a relatively short history it has grown rapidly in the past 20 years. Today Australia is considered a world leader in the use of market-based mechanisms for water management.

Water trades can take several forms. Entitlement trades include the permanent trade of water entitlements and the leasing of water entitlements. Seasonal water allocation trade is also possible.

Prices of entitlement and allocation trades are determined by the value placed on water by buyers and sellers in response to many factors such as:

  • the purpose of water use;
  • weather patterns;
  • available allocations;
  • storage volumes;
  • jurisdictional legislative arrangements; and
  • commodity market conditions.

Data collection

Quality market-related information is important to support an efficient water market and allow participants to make well informed decisions.

The Water Act 2007 enables the Bureau to collect a range of water market-related information including:

  • water access and irrigation rights;
  • permanent trades or leases of water access entitlements and irrigation rights;
  • water allocation trades;
  • permits to operate or construct a minor storage; and
  • permits to extract water from a bore or watercourse.

Data publication

Water market information collected by the Bureau is made publicly available through regular water market reports as part of the National Water Market website.

It is also presented in the Bureau's National Climate and Water Briefings and in the National Water Commission's annual Australian water markets report.

Water market information have been recently published in the ABARE's Australian water markets report 2014.15 , and Lessons from the water market: The southern Murray-Darling Basin water allocation market 2000-01 to 2015-16 .

Relevant Bureau products

The Bureau's National Water Account provides comprehensive information on nine nationally significant water use regions. It discloses rights of access, use of water, entitlement and allocation trades.

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