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The National Water Market System project

The National Water Market System (NWMS) project, a part of the Water for the Future initiative, is an important Council of Australian Governments (COAG) water reform project.

On 9 November 2009, the Minister for Climate Change and Water announced the Australian Government's investment in the development of the NWMS.

The NWMS will strengthen Australia's water market through efficient management of improved state and territory water registers, water transactions and availability of market information.

The NWMS project is part of a broader water reform agenda in Australia. Other water reform programs include activities being undertaken by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), the National Water Commission (NWC) and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA). Further information can be found at:

The NWMS is being developed so that water trading systems and processes will better meet the Water Market Performance Characteristics set by COAG and National Water Initiative  requirements.

The NWMS will support water accounting and resource management by providing market information and assisting with the accurate recording of water entitlements and management of transactions.

The objectives of the NWMS are to ensure:

  • up-to-date information about the water market is easily accessible and readily available, increasing market transparency and allowing for more informed water trading decisions
  • that each jurisdiction has a high-performing water register that accurately records water rights and supports water accounting and resource management
  • transaction times for trades and other dealings are not limited by water register processes or functions.

The NWMS project has three elements:

  1. Development of the National Water Market System website www.nationalwatermarket.gov.au
  2. Development of high performance state and territory water registers
  3. Seamless data transfer between water registers (interoperability).

The project is being coordinated and funded by the Australian Government which has established a project team within the Water Reform Division of the Department of the Environment to manage the project.

The Australian Government is working closely with state and territory governments (who have statutory responsibility for water registers) to develop the National Water Market System. The NWMS is also overseen by a NWMS project group (which includes representatives from the Commonwealth, each state and territory, the National Water Commission and the Bureau of Meteorology).

The NWMS will take a number of years to develop. Once operational, the NWMS will provide online access to state and territory water register information that is up-to-date, accurate and in a consistent format between registers.

More information about the NWMS is available in a series of frequently asked questions.

National Water Market website

The primary objective of the National Water Market website is to provide a national view of information necessary to support water markets in Australia.

The website aims to meet customer requirements for easy access to accurate, detailed, comprehensive and timely information and greater consistency of user experience across jurisdictions.

This website provides information about:

  • what makes up the Australian water market
  • water trading volume and price data
  • water trading rules and procedures
  • water management
  • water allocation announcements
  • government support and water programs
  • state and territory water registers

Future updates

This website will be continually improved and enhanced. Over time, the reporting function of the site will be expanded to include user-driven reporting capabilities.

The following diagram depicts the planned development stages for the National Water Market website:

National Water Market website development

The first stage of the website, Release 1a, went live on 30 April 2010.

The second stage of the website, Release 1b, went live on 1 December 2010. 

Release 2 is an interim reporting solution which will provide a regional based view of the water markets focusing on specific trading zones. Historical information will be provided for each trading zone including a graph of the pricing and volume trends, comparisons between periods and the trade intensity within the region. A data export will also be provided to allow users to further analyse trading within their region.

The go live date for Release 3 is yet to be advised. The scope of Release 3 has not yet been finalised, however the following features are under consideration:

  • government water purchasing reports
  • user driven reports
  • water planning reports
  • water use reports
  • information on using water

Additional releases are being planned but have not yet been scheduled.

High performance state and territory water registers

A major element of the NWMS is development of the Common Registry Solutions (CRS) to replace and standardise existing water registers in New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. The CRS will deliver:

  • a new register system
  • personal water accounting
  • online logging and tracking of water entitlement trade applications.

The existing Victorian and Queensland water registers are not a part of the CRS project as they have already been upgraded. These registers will be further enhanced as part of the broader NWMS project.

DSEWPaC holds copies of state and territory lead water authorities’ water register databases for the purpose of informing data cleansing and migration operations for the CRS. For more information see our Privacy Notice Highlights page.

Seamless data transfer between water registers (interoperability)

Through the NWMS project, the CRS and the enhanced Victorian and Queensland registers will work together so that data can be transferred automatically between each register. The automated exchange of information between state and territory water registers will facilitate efficient interstate trade, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin. Initially, interoperability will be achieved through the automation of information exchange between existing registers in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. In the future, interoperability will be accomplished through implementation of the CRS or other arrangements between connected states and territories.