Water Entitlements and Trading Project Phase 1


On 21 September 2015, responsibility for water policy and resources was transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources - Administrative Arrangement Order made on 21 September 2015.

This website will be updated to reflect these changes.


The Water Entitlements and Trading (WET) project is a joint initiative of the Australian Department of the Environment (the Department), and Chinese Ministry of Water Resources (MWR), arising from a 2003 Memorandum of Understanding.

WET Phase 1 was conducted during 2006 by a team of Australian and Chinese water experts. The project involved:

  • Reviewing current approaches to allocating and managing water rights and to water trading across China. As part of this review, investigations were undertaken in all major river basins across the country;
  • Developing a whole-of-country framework to support a water rights system; and
  • Preparing implementation plans for the framework for two pilot river basins, one in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and one in Zhejiang Province.

The WET framework has been designed to:

  • Ensure rights to water are clearly defined, as part of an integrated and transparent water allocation system;
  • Provide a greater level of certainty and security for water users;
  • Allow for a shift towards market-based allocations of water; and
  • Ensure water allocations are within the ecological limits of the river or aquifer.

The framework focuses on water right at three levels:

  • Regional water rights (the allocation of water rights between provinces, prefectures and counties);
  • Permit-level water rights (rights to abstract water from a water source); and
  • Certificate-level rights (rights to a share of water within an irrigation district).

Work undertaken during Phase 1 has been further developed during Phase 2 of the WET project.

Phase 1 Final Report for download

The WET Phase 1 Final Report is available in English in the following sections:

The WET Phase 1 Final Report is also available in Chinese and English as an entire document:

More information

For further information please contact the Department, or the Australian Water Entitlements and Trading Project team leader at robert_a_speed@yahoo.com.au.