Roles in the Basin

Roles in the Basin

The Murray–Darling Basin is managed and regulated through a partnership. This is between the Australian Government and state and territory governments.

Many departments, authorities and agencies are involved in managing the Basin.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment manages the program for the recovery of water to achieve the outcomes of the Basin Plan.

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) coordinates how the Basin’s water resources are managed.

Basin state and territory governments manage the water in their own areas.

Find your relevant regulatory agency or authority.

Ensuring compliance

Effective and fair compliance and enforcement provides confidence that:

  • everyone complies with sustainable diversion limits
  • the rules in water resource plans are implemented and complied with
  • environmental water is protected
  • the water market functions well
  • water entitlements are secure.

The MDBA monitors, audits and enforces Basin-scale compliance.

Basin state and territory governments have front line responsibilities. They implement the Basin Plan and enforce compliance at a local scale.

Water markets and trade

Water in the Murray ̶ Darling Basin can be bought and/or sold on a permanent or temporary basis.


  • provides information on water trading
  • ensures everyone complies with the Basin Plan’s water trading rules.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC):

  • assess compliance with the water market rules and water charge rules under the Water Act
  • advises the MDBA on the water trading rules
  • enforces the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and the Australian Consumer Law.

Businesses and individuals must not engage in misleading and deceptive conduct. This includes water brokers.

Basin states and territory governments:

  • must follow the Basin Plan’s water trading rules
  • also allocate water and process water trades.

Regulating water pricing

Under the water charge rules, the ACCC:

  • approve water charges in the Murray-Darling Basin for some operators
  • accredit state agencies to set water charges for infrastructure operators.

ACCC has accredited these agencies to set water charges:

  • Essential Services Commission of Victoria in Victoria
  • Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal in NSW.

Basin state and territory governments:

  • review and determine bulk water prices
  • set customer services standards, in some cases.

Managing environmental water

Environmental water is used to improve the health of the Basin’s rivers, wetlands and floodplains.

The MDBA plans, coordinates and prioritises delivery of environmental water.

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder manages how the Australian Government’s environmental water entitlements are delivered.

Basin state and territory governments plan and implement at a local-level.

Water resource plans

Water resource plans set local rules for water. They outline how each area will meet community, environmental, economic and cultural outcomes.

The MDBA assesses, recommends for accreditation and enforces water resource plans.

The Australia Government Minister responsible for water accredits water resource plans.

Basin state and territory governments develop and implement water resource plans.

Misconduct, corruption and maladministration

Public servants acting inappropriately undermines public trust.

Australia Government employees are bound by the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct. Agencies must have protocols in place to manage breaches. The Australian Federal Police and the Commonwealth Ombudsman deal with more serious matters.

State and territory government employees are also bound by codes of conduct. The state police, ombudsman and corruption commissions deal with more serious matters.


Thanks for your feedback.
Please tell us more in your own words (do not provide personal details)

We aren't able to respond to your individual comments or questions.
To contact us directly phone us or submit an online inquiry