Water scarcity is a persistent issue in Australia given the relatively dry and variable climate and now the emergence of climate change. Water is a valuable commodity particularly within agriculture, which accounts for around three quarters of total use. Water is also of value to other industries, households and increasingly environmental agencies.
Australia has a number of well-developed water markets, where water rights are freely traded between end users. Water markets allow Australia’s scarce water resources to be efficiently allocated between competing uses in response to fluctuations in supply and demand.
A key focus of ABARES water research is the collection and analysis of water markets data in the southern Murray-Darling Basin, including the annual Water Markets Outlook. ABARES also undertakes modelling and analysis on issues of water policy, especially in regards to the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan. In addition, ABARES provides analysis of the irrigated agriculture industry, drawing on data from ABARES survey of irrigation farms in the Murray Darling Basin.
A summary of ABARES research outputs on water is provided below. For access to all ABARES past water research, visit the ABARES publications library.
Water Market Outlook
Water markets information
Water markets modelling
Water property rights reform
Modelling the economics effects of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (client report)
Australian Water Markets Reports
The Australian Water Markets Reports were produced by ABARES from 2013-14 to 2016-17 and are available on this page. This report is now produced by the Bureau of Meteorology.
Australian Water Markets Report 2016-17
Australian Water Markets Report 2015-16
National overview chapter - PDF [4.3 MB]
Southern Murray-Darling Basin chapter - PDF [7.4 MB]
Northern Murray-Darling Basin chapter - PDF [2.5 MB]
Rest of Australia chapter - PDF [5.0 MB]
Data and Methods appendix - PDF [1.0 MB]
Charts and tables - Excel [11.6 MB]
Water Markets Database - Complex Type [5.7 MB]
Australian Water Markets Report 2014-15
Australian water markets report 2014-15 - Report in full - PDF [21.3 MB]
Australian water markets report 2014-15 - data tables - Excel [19.8 MB]
Australian water markets report 2014-15 - Water Markets Database - Complex Type [5.7 MB]