Interstate water market

Water trade in the Border Rivers catchment operates across the New South Wales–Queensland border.

An interstate trade means that the water available, under an entitlement or other authorisation to take water in one state, is extracted in another state. Whether the water is traded permanently, temporarily or leased interstate, it will retain its attributes and remain registered or issued in, and subject to the terms and conditions and management rules of, the state of origin.

Under this arrangement, the water user always deals with the state agency and/or water service provider from where the trade originates—not in the state where the water is taken.

Permanent interstate water trades and leases

Permanent interstate water allocation dealings, including trades and leases, do not require prior approval by the state water agency. Relevant titles documents (including notification requirements) just need to be recorded on the water titles register in the state of origin.

For water allocation dealings that do not require approval to take effect, additional registration requirements will apply depending on whether the allocations are for supplemented or unsupplemented water supply.

However, before registration on the state of origin water register, some water allocation dealings (e.g. changes to location) may need prior approval and/or notification from the relevant state water agency where the product originates.

Temporary interstate water trades

Under the temporary interstate trade framework in the Border Rivers catchment, part or all of the water accruing to a water account in one state can be assigned to be taken in the other state, during that water year. The water entitlement remains registered in and managed by the state of origin. The water available under the trade approval is also managed under the conditions or management rules of that state.

Conducting interstate supplemented/regulated water trade

For temporary trades of this water type, water is transferred from the seller's individual water account under continuous accounting to a holding account that is managed by the water service provider in the state of origin.


  • Under the continuous accounting arrangements, the holding account used for these transfers does not have a permanent share of the storage and water may only be stored to the extent that there is available air space within the general use accounts of the state of origin. For this reason, if an inflow occurs that would cause the storage to spill (either to the other state or downstream), the first water spilled is the water in the holding account.
  • The works for taking water in the state of destination must be authorised by the relevant authority in the state of destination and the purchaser must obtain approval from the Water Service Provider in the state of origin to use the nominated works in the state of destination for the taking of water under the interstate temporary trade.
  • The water service provider in the state of origin will continue to be responsible for water ordering, water accounting and billing.

Conducting interstate unsupplemented/supplementary water trade

In Queensland, a temporary trade of unsupplemented water (seasonal water assignment) involves assigning access to current or future unregulated flows to another party during a water year. A temporary trade of New South Wales supplementary water involves applying to assign account water to another party, and requires the purchaser - in whichever state - to hold or lease a supplementary water access licence.

In particular, for temporary trades of unsupplemented/supplementary water:

  • After agreeing to trade, the parties enter into a private contract which allows the buyer to access New South Wales account water, or current and/or future flows available under a Queensland entitlement, for the remainder of the water year.
  • The parties must contact the resource manager in the state of origin to provide all necessary information to enable the temporary trade to be completed - including, but not limited to, details of the entitlement, the portion of unused volume to be assigned to the buyer, and the relevant details of the works for taking the water in the state of destination.

Water orders, charges, metering and works approvals

Any interstate dealings associated with permanent or temporary trades or leases of water always link back to the conditions and management rules specified by the state of origin. Water orders for supplemented or regulated water are placed with the relevant water service provider in the state of origin. Similarly, announcements for unsupplemented or supplementary water entitlements such as the commencement of water harvesting, are made by the state of origin.

The state of origin may include a service fee to water users to recoup the cost of metering invoices from the other state. For example, a water user in the state of destination would submit a water order to the state of origin water service provider who will bill the water user in the state of destination directly. The water service provider may include a fee for reading the meter, which has been conducted under the rules and regulations and at the cost of the state of destination.

There may be requirements in the state of destination that are not directly related to the interstate trade itself, such as authorisations for water meters, pumps and land and water management plans. Water users must contact relevant agencies in the state of destination to ensure that all necessary approvals are obtained.


Below is a table of water products and transactions with their equivalent interstate terms.

Queensland New South Wales
Water allocation Water access licence
Announced allocation Available water determination
Lease Term transfer
Amalgamation Consolidation
Water allocations register Water access licence register
Titles Registry Office Land Titles Office
Supplemented water Regulated water
Unsupplemented water Supplementary water
Seasonal water assignment Water allocation assignment
Announced allocation percentage Available water determination
Operations manual Water sharing plan
Water account Water allocation account
Priority group Category

Contacts for interstate trade

Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water

Contact the department's local business centre before you visit to confirm the services or products you require are available.

Goondiwindi office

42 Callandoon Street
Phone: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)
Fax: (07) 4671 3163

Note: Departmental staff do not provide legal advice. To protect your interests, or if you are unsure of your legal entitlements, contact a solicitor or legal adviser.

Titles Registry Office

For enquiries on searches, document lodgement and registry requirements, contact the Titles Registry Office.

The enquiries service provides information on a range of conveyancing topics to:

  • explain current charges and expected processing times
  • explain and interpret register information
  • answer any queries generally related to the functions and services provided by the Titles Registration business unit.

NSW Department of Primary Industries

Contact the water dealings officer at the local NSW Office of Water.

Phone: 1800 353 104

Refer to the individual information sheets on each type of dealing at the NSW Office of Water or from regional offices.

NSW Land and Property Management Authority

General water dealings only take effect when registered by Land and Property Information.

Phone: 1300 052 637


Phone: 1300 662 077
Fax: (02) 6884 2603

Contact your customer service officer within your area for all enquiries relating to water usage, water orders, water transfers, water invoices and metering. All bill enquiries should be directed to:

Phone: 1800 353 091