The ability to carry water over between years can increase the efficiency of water use if the rules governing water storage and water allocations are well defined. This report examines water right accounting rules in the Murray-Darling Basin, specifically rules around water storage (also known as carryover) and water allocation decisions. These rules vary significantly across and within jurisdictions, and have important implications for water users, particularly irrigators.
A key finding of this report is that it may be possible to increase the efficiency of water use over time by making relatively minor changes to the centralised annual allocation systems that operate in southern NSW and northern Victoria. These include:
These two adjustments have the potential to significantly reduce the risk of individual water user's carryover decisions leading to dam spills that adversely affect other water users. They can also be achieved without significantly altering the water property rights systems that currently operate in the southern Murray-Darling Basin.