Restoring the Balance in the Murray-Darling Basin

Water entitlement purchasing in the Murray-Darling Basin

Under the Restoring the Balance in the Murray-Darling Basin program, the Australian Government has committed $3.2 billion to purchase water for the environment. This program is part of the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program.

Water buybacks obtain water for the environment from irrigators who wish to offer their water entitlement for sale. The Australian Government is acquiring a portfolio of entitlements which best meet the environment's needs.

Activities under this program:

Southern New South Wales Water Purchase Tender

The Australian Government has commenced a water purchase tender for the southern New South Wales catchments of Lower Darling, Murray and Murrumbidgee, opening at 11am AEDT on Friday, 28 November 2014 and closing at 5pm AEST on Friday, 10 April 2015.

A ‘rolling’ tender purchasing model will be used for this tender. The tender will be opened for an extended timeframe and include multiple submission and evaluation periods allowing sellers to revise unsuccessful offers and make new submissions over the period of the tender. Details of the submission and evaluation periods are available in the Request for Tender document.

In this tender the Government is only seeking sell offers for eligible high and general security licences held in the southern New South Wales catchments of Lower Darling, Murray and Murrumbidgee.

For more information, including the Request for Tender document and application form, see: Water Purchase Tender in Southern New South Wales

Water Recovery Strategy for the Murray-Darling Basin

On 2 June 2014, the Australian Government released the Water Recovery Strategy for the Murray-Darling Basin.

The Strategy outlines the Government's approach to recovering water for the environment in the Murray-Darling Basin, whilst maximising positive outcomes for farmers and communities. This includes prioritising water recovery through infrastructure investment over water purchasing which is limited to 1500 gigalitres.

Water purchase progress and pricing information

Progress of water purchasing to date

Outcomes from the Government's southern and northern Basin water purchase tenders are regularly updated.

For more information see: Progress of water purchasing

For more information about total water recovery progress towards environmental water requirements in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan see: Progress Towards Meeting Environmental Needs Under The Basin Plan

Average prices of offers pursued in recent water purchasing

Pricing information is publicly released at the conclusion of each water purchase initiative to provide greater transparency and to assist irrigators considering placing a sell offer in the future.

For more information see: Average prices of offers pursued from recent tenders

Information on water market pricing

The Department commissions independent consultants to compile quarterly price reports to assist irrigators to identify the prices that are being paid for various water entitlements across the Murray-Darling Basin.

For more information see: Market price information for Murray-Darling Basin Water Entitlements

Survey of water entitlement sellers under the RtB program

In June 2012 the Department released a report commissioned by Marsden Jacob Associates Pty Ltd that independently assessed the impact of water sales to the Commonwealth on participating irrigators.

For more information and to access the final report see: Survey of water entitlement sellers under the Restoring the Balance in the Murray-Darling Basin Program

Contact us

For further information please phone the Water Information Line on 1800 218 478 or e-mail the Water Purchasing Section at

Water purchasing by catchment in the Murray-Darling Basin+*

Image map of catchments in the Murray-Darling BasinDarlingParooWarregoMacquarie-BoganCastlereaghNamoiGwydirBorder RiversMoonieLachlanMurrumbidgeeNSW MurrayVic MurrayKiewaOvensBrokenGoulburnCampaspeLoddonAvocaWimmera - MalleeSouth Australia MurrayCondamine-Balonne

Irrigation catchments

  1. Avoca
  2. Border Rivers
  3. Broken
  4. Campaspe
  5. Castlereagh
  6. Condamine-Balonne
  7. Darling (Barwon-Darling)
  8. Goulburn
  9. Gwydir
  10. Kiewa
  11. Lachlan
  12. Loddon
  13. Macquarie-Bogan
  14. Moonie
  15. Murrumbidgee
  16. Namoi
  17. NSW Murray
  18. *Ovens
  19. Paroo
  20. SA Murray
  21. *Vic Murray
  22. Warrego
  23. Wimmera-Mallee

+ The water purchasing catchments on this map are based on the Murray-Darling Basin River catchments with modifications to catchments along the Murray River to accommodate trading practicalities.

* To protect the privacy and confidentiality of individual sellers, purchasing information in catchments with less than five offers being pursued have been combined with information from nearby catchments with similar characteristics.