Water regulation and monitoring

  • The ACCC has several roles in water, which are set out in the Water Act 2007.
  • The Water Act 2007 provides the frameworks and institutions to ensure that the Murray–Darling Basin – Australia’s largest water resource – is managed in the national interest.
  • The Water Act 2007 provides remedies and penalties for breaches of the rules.

What the ACCC does

  • We produce a water monitoring report for the Minister on water market and charging arrangements in the Murray-Darling Basin.
  • We monitor and enforce rules made under the Water Act 2007. These include the Water Market Rules 2009 and Water Charge Rules 2010.
  • We advise the Minister on the water market and water charge rules.
  • We advise the Murray-Darling Basin Authority on the Basin Plan’s water trading rules.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We don’t regulate urban water prices.
  • We don’t monitor urban water charges or water charges outside of the Murray-Darling Basin.

We monitor and report

The ACCC monitors:

The purpose of our monitoring is to inform the Minister and other interested parties about our findings and any trends we identify in termination, transformation and trade in the Murray-Darling Basin.

We provide the Minister with a water monitoring report each year. This is in line with the agreement between the Minister and the ACCC.

An annual report provided to the minister on water issues. The report provides information on regulated water charges, transformation arrangements, termination of network access, compliance with the Commonwealth Water Market and Water Charge Rules, and related issues.
28 Oct 2022

We enforce water market and water charge rules

We enforce the Water Market Rules 2009 and the Water Charge Rules 2010 under the Water Act 2007.

We can use a range of tools to encourage compliance and address breaches of the water market rules and water charge rules. Measures include taking a business to court and accepting an enforceable undertaking.

Infringement notices we have imposed and undertakings we have accepted are held on the Section 163 undertakings public register.

This guide helps operators of water infrastructure in the Murray-Darling Basin understand:

  • the ACCC’s water roles in the Murray-Darling Basin
  • the ACCC’s approach to enforcing the Water Market Rules 2009 and Water Charge Rules 2010 made under the Water Act 2007
  • how the ACCC will respond to possible contraventions of the rules and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
1 Sep 2022

We provide advice and advocate

When required, the ACCC advises the Minister on making or amending the water market rules and water charge rules.

We also advise the Murray-Darling Basin Authority on the water trading rules in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. We set regulated charges for on-river infrastructure operators, when this function hasn’t been returned to a Murray-Darling Basin State regulator.

The ACCC sometimes provides submissions to external water consultations as part of our advocacy role.

Under the water charge rules, we can also make decisions on regulatory arrangements.

ACCC water policy advice and advocacy

See a complete list of water projects.

Title Industry Type Status
Murray-Darling Basin water markets inquiry Water Inquiry Finalised
26 March 2021

The ACCC has been directed to conduct an inquiry into markets for tradeable water rights in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Water trading rules: advice to the Murray Darling Basin Authority about section 12.02 Water Policy advice Finalised

On 3 March 2020, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) requested the ACCC provide its advice on the operation of sub-sections 12.02(2) to (4) of the Basin Plan water trading rules (the 12.02 provisions), to inform its review of these provisions as required under the Basin Plan 2012 (Cth). The ACCC provided this advice to the MDBA on 1 June 2020.

Review of the water charge rules: advice development Water Policy advice Finalised
9 December 2019

In response to a recommendation from the Independent Review of the Water Act 2007 in 2014, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment wrote to the ACCC requesting advice on possible amendments to the Water Charge (Infrastructure) Rules 2010, Water Charge (Planning and Management Information) Rules 2010, and Water Charge (Termination Fees) Rules 2009.

Ask us a question on water

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

Email us a question

See also

Water Act 2007

Water charge rules

Water market rules

Compliance and enforcement guide for infrastructure operators on the water rules

Media release: ACCC imposes penalties and secures compensation under water termination fees rules

Media release: ACCC takes first action to enforce termination fee rules