MDBA trials new trade rules

State bulk water account trades to be streamlined

TRADE TRIALS: The Murray-Darling Basin Authority is trialling new ways of streamlining trades between the states.

TRADE TRIALS: The Murray-Darling Basin Authority is trialling new ways of streamlining trades between the states.


Bulk water trade accounting to be spread more widely.


The Murray-Darling Basin Authority says it'll be trialling new ways to account for water trades, between states, in the Murray River system.

The trials, which started on July 1, have been developed in conjunction with NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

MDBA River Management executive director Andrew Reynolds said the trials aimed to streamline the way trades were accounted for in state bulk water accounts

"The MDBA and the states have been working on ways to improve the way we make trade adjustments to account for trades across state borders," Mr Reynolds said.

"For example, when someone sells water in NSW to a buyer in Victoria, that exchange of water needs to be accounted for in the volumes available for use in each state.

"So the trade adjustments are made to match the volumes of interstate retail trades.

"Up to now, the practice was to make all trade adjustments in Hume Reservoir, which was a simple method that suited the small to moderate volumes of inter-state trade seen historically."

He said the trials meant the adjustments would be made, closer to the location of the trades, rather than only in the Hume.

"They will also be made more quickly to better align with trade delivery," Mr Reynolds said.

"These improvements are expected to reduce the frequency of inter-state trade closures, thereby increasing opportunities for water trades."

The trials will run for three years.

And the MDBA has also flagged work on improving enforcement of water rules in the Murray-Darling Basin in 2019-20 will focus on six priorities, including unmeasured water extraction, use of water meters and unfair or unnecessary trade restrictions.

Office of Compliance executive director Brent Williams, said over the past couple of years there had been significant progress to improve water compliance by state governments and the MDBA, as required by the Basin Plan and Water Act.

"As the regulator, the MDBA's main job is to ensure the Basin state and territory governments' processes and enforcement measures are robust and give people in the Basin every opportunity to do the right thing," Mr Williams said.

"This year we will be in the field doing site inspections and meter coverage reviews, we will be auditing floodplain harvesting infrastructure in the northern Basin and educating water market users about trading rules and reporting."

Mr Williams said the MDBA's priorities for the coming year were:

  • unmeasured water extraction
  • robust water metering
  • trade restrictions
  • the protection of water for the environment
  • state government compliance and enforcement arrangements, and
  • state government accounting for the use of water in accordance with the new sustainable diversion limits and the adjustment of those limits.

"We've come a long way in a short time, and it's pleasing to see significant steps that are improving trust across the Basin, especially in extended drought conditions when every drop of water is so valuable," Mr Williams said.

"The MDBA continues to increase transparency about compliance issues, with a Water Resource Plan quarterly update, our audit of state reporting of water trade prices and a review of a large Northern Basin environmental flow all signalling the MDBA's commitment to action.

"We will continue to push for a 'no meter, no take' approach across the Basin, and develop remote sensing capabilities and other technologies to better monitor water use and support compliance and enforcement.

"All Australians need to have confidence that the Basin Plan is being complied with. It's a big job, and the MDBA's ongoing work will ensure strong compliance and enforcement regimes are in place across the Basin that all Australians can have faith in."


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