Water charge rules

  • The Water Charge Rules 2010 provide price transparency for infrastructure and related services in the Murray-Darling Basin.
  • Infrastructure operators must include most charges on their schedule of charges, unless they have an exemption.
  • Infrastructure operators must provide customers who are terminating with an information statement.

What the ACCC does

  • We monitor and report on regulated water charges.
  • We enforce water charge rules and publish guidance material on these rules.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We don’t oversee water markets.
  • We don’t resolve individual disputes.

About the water charge rules

The water charge rules provide price transparency for infrastructure and related services in the Murray-Darling Basin. 

The rules came into effect on 1 July 2020, following the ACCC review of the water charge rules in 2016.

The ACCC has prepared this document to help infrastructure operators in the Murray–Darling Basin understand the key requirements of the water charge rules.
1 Jul 2020

Operator schedule of charges

Infrastructure operators must include most charges on their schedule of charges, under the water charge rules.

An infrastructure operator’s schedule of charges must contain certain information, including:

  • the name of relevant charges and when they must be paid
  • the amount of the charge or any details required to determine this
  • any available discount or surcharge and the circumstance in which it applies
  • the class of person required to pay the charge.

Example of schedule of charges

See Water Charge Rules 2010 – Example schedule of water charges ( PDF 142.14 KB ). It is not intended to be a template.

Pass-through charges

Pass-through charges are charges for operational costs. Pass-through charges are divided into the 2 categories of network operation charges and ancillary charges.

Network operation charges

These are mainly recovering charges levied on an infrastructure operator for meeting distribution losses.

Infrastructure operators are not required to levy a separate charge to recover network operation charges. If they do, they can recover no more than the charge they are passing through.

Ancillary charges

These are mainly recovering planning and management or infrastructure charges that are paid by the infrastructure operator.

Infrastructure operators must levy one or more separate charges to recover ancillary charges. This must be no more than the total amount of the ancillary charges.

Capital contributions

The charges that infrastructure operators include in a schedule of charges can include one-off charges or ‘capital contributions’.

This guidance is to help infrastructure operators understand the types of charges, including one-off charges or ‘capital contributions’, that must be included in a schedule of charges.
3 Aug 2022

Exemption from having to disclose certain charges

Infrastructure operators or their customers may apply to the ACCC for an exemption from the requirement that the operator publish certain infrastructure charges in their schedule of charges.

This may be done if the operator or customer believes, on reasonable grounds, that disclosure of the charges would result in a material financial loss or material detriment to the operator or customer.

Any application must be made before the operator and customer enter into a contract.

If the ACCC grants the infrastructure operator or the customer an exemption from the schedule of charges publication requirements, the operator must publish certain information in relation to this exemption including:

  • a statement that the exemption has been granted
  • the name of the customer or customers
  • the period of the contract or contracts
  • the infrastructure service(s) to which the charge(s) exempt from disclosure relate(s).

The ACCC has prepared this document to assist infrastructure operators or their customers in the Murray-Darling Basin who are seeking an exemption from the requirement to include specific infrastructure charges in their schedule of charges.
24 May 2022

When a customer wants to terminate

The water charge rules are intended to strike a balance between:

  • allowing a customer to terminate
  • covering the ongoing costs of the infrastructure operator.

An infrastructure operator must provide a termination information statement to the customer before the customer terminates.

Example of termination information statement

See Water Charge Rules 2010 - Example termination information statement (PDF 35.25 KB ). It is not intended to be a template.

Maximum termination fee

The water charge rules set a limit on the maximum termination fee and regulate when a termination fee can be imposed.

The rules include a formula for determining the maximum termination fee that an infrastructure operator can charge a customer that is terminating their water delivery right or drainage right. This formula applies unless a contract between the operator and holder of the right provides for a lower amount.

The rules limit the maximum general termination fee that an infrastructure operator can levy to:

  • 10 times the fixed volumetric charges for the rights of access the customer wishes to terminate (subject to specified exclusions). This is levied per unit of water delivery or drainage right for a full financial year, or
  • if an infrastructure operator does not allow the trade of the type of water delivery or drainage right that the customer wishes to terminate, the amount (not 10 times the amount) of the fixed volumetric charges. This is levied per unit of water delivery or drainage right for a full financial year.

Additional termination fee

An infrastructure operator may also apply an additional termination fee, where that fee has been approved by the ACCC.

We have published information to help infrastructure operators and their customers understand when we can approve an additional termination fee.

This guidance is to help infrastructure operators and their customers to understand when the ACCC can approve an additional termination fee.
3 Aug 2022

Regulation of bulk water charges in the Murray-Darling Basin

The ACCC decides whether infrastructure operators that provide a bulk water service within the Murray-Darling Basin (bulk water operator) are operators under Part 6 of the water charge rules.

A bulk water service is a service for the storage or delivery of water on-river.

If we decide that an operator is a Part 6 operator, we must also decide whether to grant the operator an exemption from the operation of Part 6 of the water charge rules.

When a bulk water operator’s charges are determined under state law

A bulk water operator’s infrastructure charges are determined under state law if:

  • the operator is not a Part 6 operator, or
  • the operator is a Part 6 operator, but the ACCC has granted the operator an exemption from the operation of Part 6.

When a bulk water operator’s charges are determined by the ACCC

The ACCC determines a bulk water operator’s infrastructure charges if:

  • the operator is a Part 6 operator, and
  • the ACCC has not granted an exemption.

Decisions made under Part 6 of the water charge rules

See a complete list of water projects.

Title Industry Type Status
Sunwater Limited: Decisions under Part 6 of the Water Charge Rules 2010 Water Review Finalised

The ACCC is required under Part 6 of the Water Charge Rules 2010 (WCR) to decide whether on-river infrastructure operators meet the definition of ‘Part 6 operators’ and, if so, whether to grant them an exemption from the operation of the requirements of Part 6 of the WCR.

WaterNSW: Decisions under Part 6 of the Water Charge Rules 2010 Water Review Finalised

The ACCC is required under Part 6 of the Water Charge Rules 2010 (WCR) to decide whether on-river infrastructure operators meet the definition of ‘Part 6 operators’ and, if so, whether to grant them an exemption from the operation of the requirements of Part 6 of the WCR.

Goulburn-Murray Water: Decisions under Part 6 of the Water Charge Rules 2010 Water Review Finalised

The ACCC is required under Part 6 of the Water Charge Rules 2010 (WCR) to decide whether on-river infrastructure operators meet the definition of ‘Part 6 operators’ and, if so, whether to grant them an exemption from operation of the requirements of Part 6 of the WCR.

Lower Murray Water: Decisions under Part 6 of the Water Charge Rules 2010 Water Review Finalised

The ACCC is required under Part 6 of the Water Charge Rules 2010 (WCR) to decide whether on-river infrastructure operators meet the definition of ‘Part 6 operators’ and, if so, whether to grant them an exemption from operation of the requirements of Part 6 of the WCR.

Queensland Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water: Decisions under Part 6 of the Water Charge Rules 2010 Water Review Ongoing

The ACCC is required under Part 6 of the Water Charge Rules 2010 (WCR) to decide whether on-river infrastructure operators meet the definition of ‘Part 6 operators’ and, if so, whether to grant them an exemption from the operation of the requirements of Part 6 of the WCR.

ESCV application for accreditation (2019) under the Water Charge (Infrastructure) Rules 2010 Water Accreditation application Finalised

The Essential Services Commission (Victoria) (ESCV) has applied to become the accredited regulator for the period 17 February 2022 to 16 February 2032.  

WaterNSW: annual review of regulated charges 2016-17 Water Price determination Finalised
19 May 2016

The ACCC has completed its second annual review of Water NSW’s regulated charges for water infrastructure services in the Murray-Darling Basin. This review applies to charges for 2016-17, the third and last year of the regulatory period 2014–17.

IPART application for accreditation under the water charge (infrastructure) rules Water Accreditation application Finalised
23 September 2015

On 23 September 2015, the ACCC made a Final Decision to accredit IPART under Part 9 of the Water Charge (Infrastructure) Rules 2010 (WCIR).

Water NSW (formerly State Water): annual price review 2015-16 Water Price determination Finalised
5 June 2015

The ACCC conducted its first annual review of Water NSW’s regulated charges for water infrastructure services in the Murray-Darling Basin for 2015-16.

State Water's regulated charges: 2014-17 review Water Price determination Finalised
26/06/2014

For the 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2017 regulatory period, the ACCC was the regulator responsible for approving or determining State Water’s (now WaterNSW’s) regulated charges in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) under the Water Charge (Infrastructure) Rules 2010 (WCIR).

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Contact us if you need further guidance on the water charge rules or have a question about the ACCC regulation of water.

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See also

Water Charge Rules 2010

What the ACCC does in water

Water market rules

Water projects list

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