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News and policy

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority's primary aim is to manage the Basin's water resources in Australia’s national interest. The creation of the MDBA means that a single agency is now responsible for planning integrated management of the water resources of the Murray–Darling Basin for the first time.

The Economic and Social Impacts of Water Trading

This Report for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, National Water Commission and Murray-Darling Basin Commission examines “the social and economic impacts of water trading on rural communities and industries and… seeks to contribute to understanding the impacts of water trading on all stakeholders across regional economies and communities”.

Legislative Background

The regulation of water markets lies within the jurisdiction of State and Territory Governments within Australia. Each separate zone has its own water system boundary and administrative arrangements, with the exception of the interstate water trading provisions allowed in the Murray-Darling Basin which is administered by its own designated authority as a provision of the Water Act 2007.

Time line of events

  • 1991 Council of Australian Governments (COAG) reforms separate water rights from land rights, expanding markets for trading in water rights.
  • 2004 The National Water Initiative is established by COAG to lead in the coordination of a cohesive approach to water planning between State Governments.
  • 2007 The Commonwealth Government’s Water Act establishes provisions for the creation of a water plan for the Murray-Darling basin including water charge, water market and water trading rules. These activities are to be administered by a new body, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
  • 2008 The prime minister and the premiers of NSW, QLD, VIC, SA and chief minister of the NT sign an intergovernmental agreement on Murray-Darling Basin reform, resulting in amendments to the Water Act 2007. The ACCC has new powers to advise on market rules and the National Water Commission is assigned responsibility for auditing the effectiveness of the reform implementation.

Water Allocations




Dam Storage Levels