Federal Government puts $6 million towards greater transparency within Murray-Darling Basin

By Rodney Woods

Farmers will get improved access to vital water market information through a new web and mobile app, Waterflow.

Federal Water Minister David Littleproud announced the Waterflow platform, funded through the Federal Government's Business Research and Innovation Initiative at a media conference on September 2 at Echuca, which was rescheduled after being moved from Barmah earlier in the day.

The app was developed by natural resource economics firm Marsden Jacob Associates and will give irrigators greater confidence in the water market, enabling them to use the market to better manage their risks.

"We are now going to be able to provide information in real time — who owns the water, where the water is, where the allocations are, what's available, who has it," Mr Littleproud said.

"This also builds on the ACCC review that I've called, into the water market, to make sure there is even greater transparency in the here and now about who owns the water and the allocations and where they're going.

"So this is another step in rebuilding confidence right across the basin."

Rod Carr, from Marsden Jacob Associates, explained how the app was developed.

"We've been working on this for a couple of years and it's been with the support of the Federal Government that we've been able to do it," Mr Carr said.

"Waterflow is an application that is going to be free to use by farmers and other water market participants.

"It's going to dramatically simplify how they go about doing their searching of information on water markets and should save them a heap of time.

"It's been out for testing with several hundred people over the years and been involved in a number of hundred people involved in direct testing of the applications."

The web-based version of Waterflow is available now at www.waterflow.io, with the mobile app version to be made available in coming weeks.

The Waterflow app was allocated $1 million, while another $5 million will go to the Bureau of Meteorology for improved data reporting.

The $5 million investment will see real time data posted publicly for the first time.

“Knowledge is power and this puts it right in the hands of basin communities,” Mr Littleproud said.

“The tool will help communities understand exactly how much water is available for irrigators, communities and the environment.

“The new system will standardise, combine and generate the data we have across several sources, and then present it in a way that’s easy to understand and use."

The bureau upgrades will be rolled out over the next three years in two phases.

Phase one will see fortnightly updates of data for water in storage on a valley scale, while phase two will result in updated water availability data at the river reach and individual storage scale and allow the user to aggregate data to valley and basin scale.

For more information on the Waterflow app, visit: www.business.gov.au/BRII

For more information about the bureau’s water information, visit: www.bom.gov.au/water