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Water markets and trade

Water trade allows for the efficient redistribution of water and is an important mechanism for managing the Murray-Darling Basin’s scarce water resources.

South Australia is part of the southern-connected Murray-Darling Basin water market which is a connected water resource covering parts of South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.

There are two main types of water rights traded in the Basin - entitlements and allocations:

  • Water access entitlements are rights to an ongoing share of the total amount of water available in a system.
  • Water allocations are the actual amount of water available under water access entitlements in a given season.

Water trade dashboards

Water trade dashboards have been developed to provide better information about water allocation and entitlement trading in the South Australian River Murray.

The dashboards include data on the volume and price of water traded through time.

ACCC Murray-Darling Basin Water Market Inquiry

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was directed on 7 August 2019 to conduct an inquiry into markets for tradeable water rights in the Murray-Darling Basin, the Murray-Darling Basin water markets inquiry.

This inquiry is now completed with the ACCC publishing its ACCC Murray-Darling Basin water markets inquiry final report at 26 March 2021.

The ACCC made 29 recommendations grouped in the themes of:

  • market integrity and conduct
  • trade processing and water market information
  • market architecture
  • governance of the Basin water markets.

The Department for Environment and Water is reviewing the findings in conjunction with other Basin governments and will develop a joint response and implementation strategy with due consideration to financial and water management implications, as well as existing reforms already underway in South Australia.

More information

For more information on water trade:

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