Creating a prosperous, sustainable and healthy Northern Australia

Improving water markets and trading through new digital technologies

Improving water markets and trading through new digital technologies
  • Reference # A.7.1920043
  • Timeframe 6 months
  • Project Status Current
  • Location Mareeba, Dimbulah, Atherton, Sydney, Brisbane
  • Total project value $203,438.00
  • Project manager Carla Keith
  • Research Programs 7. Informing policy development
  • Strategic policy development


This pilot trial project will focus on testing Civic Ledger’s blockchain Water Ledger trading platform, currently at a Minimum Viable Product Stage of its software development lifecycle. The trial project will work with horticultural irrigators within the Mareeba Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme (MDWSS) on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland.

The objective to piloting Water Ledger in the Mareeba Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme (pilot project) is to research and evaluate blockchain’s potential to support and enhance the design and development of innovative water markets in Northern Australia.

This objective includes evaluation of opportunities to enhance real time price discoverability, reduce trading costs, and improve liquidity of transfers to ensure water availability through the removal of information asymmetry by creating perfect water trading and market conditions.

The pilot project’s trading platform will conduct trades in parallel with existing Water Information Systems used by the irrigators at MDWSS to collect data for analysis and to determine whether a smart market based on blockchain technology:

  • Incentivises optimisation of water allocations
  • Increases market confidence
  • Decreases transaction costs
  • Improves data integrity.

In doing so, the pilot will provide essential data for further research to be executed to inform trading market optimisation with relevance to the growing Northern Australia agriculture industry and will provide valuable feedback for further development of the Water Ledger platform, including for platform application at a water supply scheme.

Expected outcomes

The research project will contribute to understanding the governance and market mechanisms for the efficient functioning of water trading in northern Australia.

Through exploring the conditions required for the successful application of blockchain technology in water trading in the MDWSS, the trial project will directly examine:

  • How can blockchain technology design incentives for irrigators to optimise water allocations leading to increased agri-economic outputs?
  • Will price and market volume transparency in near to real time afforded by a blockchain enabled water trading platform lead to optimisation of water allocations?
  • Can blockchain technology help design new regulatory and governance frameworks for emerging water markets in northern Australia to deliver truthful and symmetric revelation of information about water process and market volume to capture the ASEAN agricultural opportunity?


11 December 2020

Improving water markets and trading through new digital technologies

Type: Report

Industry: Horticulture, Strategic policy development