The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released its third annual Water Monitoring Report for the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) under the Water Act 2007.

The ACCC monitors and enforces rules which promote water trade in the MDB. The report provides information about the impact of water reforms on water markets and the irrigation industry in the MDB.

New data collected by the ACCC for 2011-12 shows that fewer farmers are leaving irrigation in the MDB compared to two years ago. Rather than leaving irrigation, farmers are using water markets to increase business flexibility and maximise the value of their water assets.

“This report shows that farmers are seeing the benefits of a water market that allows water trading to meet the needs of variable rainfall,” ACCC Commissioner Joe Dimasi said.

The report also highlights that compliance with the water rules, which are enforced by the ACCC, continues to improve. These water rules help to minimise barriers to trade previously imposed by irrigation infrastructure operators.

“Despite the success of recent reforms, the report highlights that barriers to water trade still remain in the Murray-Darling Basin. State governments continue to cap trading opportunities and intervene in the market, creating uncertainty and limiting options for water users,” Mr Dimasi said.

The report also details a number of other issues, in particular:
• infrastructure pricing and investment
• water trading activity, and
• water planning and management charges imposed by government entities.