Australian water markets reports

Cover of 2021-22 Australian Water Markets Report National overview

The Bureau publishes an annual report providing a comprehensive review of water markets across Australia.


Australian Water Market Report 2021-22.

Key messages

  • In 2021–22, water markets in Australia had an estimated turnover (monetary value of water traded) of over $4 billion, down from around $6 billion in 2020–21. The decline in turnover was largely due to decreased volumes of entitlements traded and lower allocation prices.
  • With a second consecutive year of widespread above-average rainfall leading to high water availability in 2021–22, there were record high volumes of water allocations traded (8111 GL); however prices paid remained low and generally declined further over the course of the water year.
  • In the southern Murray-Darling Basin, most entitlement prices reached or remained at record highs due to:
    • continued demand from irrigators looking to underpin water requirements for high value horticultural crops in the lower Murray
    • increased allocations against general reliability and some low reliability entitlements, and the value of being able to use these entitlements to carryover allocations between water years, and
    • decreased volumes being traded, with water holders potentially less willing to sell.
  • In regions outside the MDB, surface water and groundwater entitlement trading both declined compared to the previous year, reflecting the variability in water availability.
About the report


Archive–Previous water markets reports

2020-21: Australian Water Market Report (9.7MB)

2019-20: Australian Water Market Report (5.0MB)

2018-19: Australian Water Market Report (5.2MB)

2017-18: National overview(9.7MB); Southern Murray–Darling Basin (9.7MB); All other water systems (9.7MB)

2013-14 to 2016-17: ABARES reports

2007-08 to 2012-13: National Water Commission reports

About the Australian water markets report

The Australian water markets report provides a comprehensive review of water markets across Australia and includes data from a range of Commonwealth, state and private sector sources. This report series is designed to inform market participants, regulators, policy makers, researchers and other interested parties about Australia's water market. The focus is on irrigated agriculture, the largest user of water in Australia.

The report provides detailed analysis of trade volumes, prices and market behaviour to provide a complete examination of the supply and demand drivers of Australia's water markets. It also covers climatic factors, water availability, environmental water and irrigated agricultural activity, as well as traded products, trading activity, prices and any relevant changes in water market structures.

This is the 15th annual statement of water trading activity across Australia. The National Water Commission (NWC) published the first six reports in the series, from 2007–08 to 2012–13. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) produced the 2013–14 to 2016–17 editions of the report. The Bureau of Meteorology produced the report from 2017–18.

The 2021–22 report provides an overview of the trends and statistics of the 2021–22 water year. More detailed data can be viewed via the Bureau's Water Markets Dashboard.

The report incorporates data from:

  • Bureau of Meteorology – primary information on water trading and water balances. Under the Water Act 2007 and the Water Regulations 2008, the Bureau has statutory responsibility for collecting water trade data from jurisdictional agencies and irrigation infrastructure operators.
  • ABARES – historical information from previous Australian Water Market Reports.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics – information on farm water use and irrigated agricultural production.
  • Commonwealth Environmental Water Office – information on the holdings and trade activity of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.
  • Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water – information on Australian Government environmental water recovery.
  • State and local water authorities – information about specific water systems.

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