Information and resources

Access to water is an important issue for the Australian cotton industry, because without water, we cannot grow a crop. Water management is tightly regulated in Australia and the cotton industry operates within the framework that is in place.

Read about cotton's water use

How water is managed in Australia

  • The federal (primarily through the Murray-Darling Basin Plan) and state governments manage the nation’s water resources.
  • Water users (including irrigators) must be licensed, which governs their access to a share of the water available from year to year.
  • Water allocations are prioritised for towns, stock, and the environment before any water is made available to irrigation licences or a specific licence held on behalf of the environment.
  • During wet periods, more water is allocated to users; during a dry year, less water is allocated. Sometimes during a drought no water will be issued to some irrigation licences.
  • Water licences are tradable, both on the temporary market (trading actual allocation on a yearly basis) and permanent market (trading entitlement to the allowable share). This has allowed water to shift to the ‘highest value use’. There is no one ‘highest value use’, but the holder of the water will choose what to use it on, based on their total resources and experience, to seek the best financial return.

Links to further information

Visit the below websites for more information about water management:

Australia’s water resources

River flow information

Water allocation availability information

Water storage information

Environmental water management

Murray-Darling Basin Plan

Progress and projects – Basin Plan Water Recovery