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Water auctions and sales

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Southern Rural Water Exchange

If you wish to participate in water auction and sales within in the Macalister Irrigation District visit our trading platform.

From time to time, SRW is able to offer additional water for sale from its storages or through groundwater and surface water opportunities.

Opportunities to acquire new water entitlements

SRW is able to offer additional water for sale through two main sources:

  1. SRW is achieving water savings from the modernisation of its districts. Some of these savings are made available to customers as either temporary allocations or permanent water shares.
  2. New groundwater or surface water entitlements are available where the current licensed volume is lower than the specified limit.

The preferred government policy is to release this water via a sales process, to ensure equity. In the case of new groundwater and surface water entitlements, the sale process is usually preceded by an application process to determine the level of demand.

The water is typically sold via an auction, although sometimes water is placed ‘on-the-shelf (i.e. customers can apply for it at a predetermined fixed rate or ‘reserve’ price). Water not sold at auction is typically placed ‘on-the-shelf.’ 

The following principles guide the sales process:

  • Maximise availability: we will make water available as soon as possible, having regard to ease of provision and market conditions. This may involve a series of permanent (share) sales and temporary (allocation) sales in order to put the water into production.
  • Maximise the uptake: we seek to maximise the uptake by promoting sales and encouraging customer participation.
  • Fair market price: water will be sold at a fair price, having regard to the costs associated in making the water available (e.g. cost associated with resource appraisals, validations and the sales process) and prevailing market conditions.
  • Fair and open process: we seek to sell the majority of the water via an open and competitive process (e.g. auction or tender), albeit with the ability to reserve some water for ‘off the shelf sales’.

Each year SRW publishes an annual water sales plan.

The volume of water offered varies from year to year and is dependent on a range of factors, including the volume of savings achieved through modernisation, the results of resources assessments and the outcomes of sales from the preceding year.

Irrigation Districts 

Source Potential pool (water savings ML) Notes*


Volume (ML)

Macalister Irrigation District 22,000

Sales proposed for September 2023 and March 2024, contingent on Minister’s approval.

Future sales pool from balance of phase 1A (2,000ML), phase 1B (10,000ML) and phase 2 (10,000ML). Changes to State policy on unallocated water could affect the sales pool.

This forecast is consistent with our Price Submission of annual sales of 1,000ML in the MID.

Demand assessments from existing customers will also inform potential for expansion into other areas (Southern Victoria irrigation Development investigation for the Avon area).

Werribee Irrigation District     Nil
Bacchus Marsh Irrigation District     Nil

*The volumes in the tables for the irrigation districts are gross volumes of water savings. The net volume may vary subject to audits and mitigation water requirements. High and low reliability water shares are issued from the water savings at the Minister’s discretion.

The timing of sales is not definite as they are contingent on the Minister’s approval and any conditions e.g. requirements to consult with customers and stakeholders such as traditional owners, and DEECA’s resources to process water savings approvals.

Groundwater: Higher priority sales 

Source Potential pool (ML) Notes*


Volume (ML)

Mitchell River 2,000 This sale is scheduled for 2023-24 2,000
Boneo (LT aquifer) 800 Application pending. This sale is complex due to VCAT decisions, pending release of Geothermal licensing guidelines by the Minister and changes to the permissible consumptive volume order. 800
Frankston (UT aquifer) 994 Application pending. 994
Bass River 300 Application pending. 300
Franklin River 300 Application pending. 300
Albert River 300 Application pending. 300
Powlett River 500 Application pending. 500
Surrey River 500 Application pending. 500
Shaw/Eumeralla Rivers 500 Application pending. 500
Small coastal catchments of the Portland Coast Basin 1,800 300ML in each of the six small coastal catchments between the Eumeralla River and Darlots Creek, and around Portland and Cape Bridgewater. Applications pending. 1,800
Gellibrand River 1,000 Customer interest received. 1,000

*All require demand assessments and traditional owner assessments before proceeding

Groundwater: Lower priority sales

There are several rivers with small volumes available. The intention is to treat these as secondary areas with demand investigations to be progressively undertaken from 2023 to 2025. In the interim, any applications will be treated on their merits.

Source ML
Eumerall to Darlots 1,800
Johanna, Milanesia & Brown Ck 300
Aire River 300
Parker to Skenes River 300
Tambryn to Aireys Inlet 90
Lake Colac 2,852
Hopkins Basin coast 680
Curdies River and the Port Campbell area 50
Merri River 80
Two coastal areas of the Hopkins Basin (Buckley Creek, Nullawarre, and South of Tower Hill Lake) 680
Ten Mile Ck 300
Dividing Ck 300
Nine Mile & Shady Ck 300
Other catchments where water is still available under the SDL 500
Bass River 2,297
South Gippsland Basin Coast 501
Genoa River 500
Cann River 500
Other East Gippsland catchments 500


Private trades

If you need more water, or have spare water, you can seek to buy and sell (or trade, lease or temporarily transfer) water from other SRW customers in your irrigation district, system or zone.

Previous auction results

Water auctions are becoming more common across Southern Rural Water and can be a good way to gain access to extra water either for production or security.

See below for previous water auction results

Please refer to Water trading for more details.

  • Previous water auction results

    Mitchell River winterfill water auction - 14 May 2021

    An auction of take and use licences (under section 51) for unallocated Mitchell River winterfill was opened on Wednesday 5 May 2021, for 24 eligible bidders. The auction was completed over three days from 12-14 May.

    A total volume of 1,990 megalitres (ML) was offered in 36 lots, ranging in volume from 30ML to 100ML. All lots had multiple bidders and were sold. Winning bids ranged from $630 to $841 per ML. The average price was $733 per ML.

    A total of 10 ML was made available for eligible stock and domestic applicants prior to the auction.

    Latrobe River temporary water sale - 27 November 2020

    In November, tenders were called for 800ML of temporary water from the Blue Rock Drought Reserve. The water was made available for sale by tender to customers on the Latrobe River system. One lot of 50ML sold for $40 per megalitre.

    Macalister Irrigation District (MID) permanent water share auction - 3 April 2020

    An annual auction of permanent water shares in the Macalister Irrigation District (MID) was conducted successfully online Friday 3 April 2020, through WaterBid.

    A total of 92.8 megalitres (ML) high reliability water shares and 48.5 ML low reliability water shares were offered across 15 lots, all with allocation.

    Buyers were predominantly dairy, beef and fodder businesses in the MID.

    • Winning bids ranged from $2,672.50 to $2,805 per megalitre for the high and low reliability bundled lots, with an average of $2,734.44 per megalitre.
    • The lots comprising only high reliability shares sold between $2,555 to $2,658.92 per megalitre, with an average of $2621.28 per megalitre.

    Based on the results for the day the market is valuing low reliability water shares at an average of  $113 per megalitre.

    Dilwyn aquifer allocation auction - December 2019

    An auction of section 51 licences for a total allocation of 5,000 ML from the Dilwyn (deep) aquifer, near Warrnambool, were offered to registered bidders over the period from Tuesday 3 December 2019 to Wednesday 11 December 2019. The 15 lots offered ranged in size from 200ML to 500ML.  The auction was open for seven days and all lots were passed in after a total of 74 bids were placed, failing to meet the reserve.

    Tarwin River winterfill auction - June 2019

    An auction of Section 51 take and use licences for Tarwin River winterfill was completed 26-27 June. A total volume of 2,495ML was sold in 38 lots, ranging from 200ML to 5ML. All lots had multiple bidders, with some receiving over 40 bids. Prices ranged from $675 to $1,784 per ML. The average price was $1,494 per ML.

    Latrobe River auction - May 2019

    A further auction of temporary water from the Blue Rock Drought Reserve was made available for auction to customers on the Latrobe River system.  The auction offered 285 ML in 8 lots ranging in size from 10ML to 50 ML. Three lots totalling 200ML sold at auction, with one further lot of 50ML sold off-the-shelf. The water sold for an average of $31 per megalitre.

    Bacchus Marsh and Werribee Irrigation District auction - May 2019

    An auction for 230 megalitres (ML) of high reliability and 115 ML of low reliability water shares in the Bacchus Marsh and Werribee Irrigation Districts was conducted online between Tuesday 14 and Thursday 16 May 2019.  The lots were offered as: 26 lots of 5ML of HRWS with 2.5ML LRWS; and 5 lots of 20ML of HRWS with 10ML LRWS.  At the completion of the auction:

    • 26 lots were sold, ranging in size from 5ML high-reliability with 2.5 low-reliability water shares, to 20ML high reliability with 10ML low reliability water shares.
    • The results ranged between $1,000 and $1,405 per high and low combined megalitre.
    • 5 lots did not meet the reserve and were passed in.

    Latrobe River auction - April 2019

    A further auction of temporary water from the Blue Rock Dought Reserve was made available for auction to customers on the Latrobe River system.  The auction offered 900 ML in 14 lots ranging in size from 10ML to 150 ML. The water sold for an average of $55.57 per megalitre.

    Latrobe River auction - February 2019

    In response to drought conditions, temporary water from the Blue Rock Dought Reserve was made available for auction to customers on the Latrobe River system.  The auction offered 900 ML in 12 lots ranging in size from 25ML to 100 ML. The water sold for an average of $87.42 per megalitre.

    MID Permanent water share auction - 20 February 2019

    The auction for 269 megalitres (ML) of permanent water shares in the Macalister Irrigation District was completed successfully yesterday (19 Feb) at Southern Rural Water’s office in Johnson Street, Maffra.

    The lots were offered as high and low reliability bundles. There were successful bidders from dairy, beef and fodder enterprises in the district.

    • Prices ranged from a high of $2,200 per ML to $1,850 per ML
    • The average was $2,035 per ML