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Metering and measuring in the Basin

Water is a precious resource in the Murray–Darling Basin, with a wide variety of communities, towns, farmers and industries all depending on this natural resource. It is important that everyone gets their fair share, while leaving enough in the river system to maintain the health of our rivers, lakes and wetlands and the unique plants and animals that depend on them. 

Water meters and accurate measurement help to ensure that water across the Basin is shared fairly and within the rules. These tools provide vital information that is used by water managers to plan, manage and account for water resources in the Murray–Darling Basin­­.


Quality water meters are the key tool for measurement and monitoring of water usage. Accurate metering is essential for fairness and equity of water sharing between users.

Water meters which meet the Australian Standard, are an effective way to determine exactly how much water is being pumped and at what rate. Basin state governments and water users can use information from meters to know how much water is being taken from our rivers and groundwater systems.

Meter readings are used by Basin state governments to check compliance with annual licensed allocations. Where over-use is detected, state compliance officers will generally work with users to help meet licence conditions.

The data obtained from meter readings is also used by Basin state governments to undertake specialised water resource management planning activities and help create realistic model scenarios to forecast future trends on how water will be used.

Water meters are required under state legislation in the Murray–Darling Basin. View the range of meters approved by the National Measurement Institute of Australia against the Australian standard for non-urban meters. Water licence holders are responsible for installing and maintaining their water meters.


Measuring the volume of water taken helps water users remain within water allocation limits. This is important for the long-term sustainable management of water resources needed for agriculture, industries, regional communities and the environment.

The measuring of water helps to:

  • keep track of how much annual entitlement has been used
  • understand how efficiently users are managing irrigation water
  • identify any potential problems with irrigation systems
  • assist water users to determine the effectiveness of any water saving measures
  • assist Basin state governments in understanding how much water is being used and the impact on water resources
  • assist Basin state governments in making informed decisions about fair and sustainable access to water resources.

For more information on the metering and measuring rules and regulations in individual states, visit:

Hydrometric networks and monitoring technologies

The Australian Government is committed to improving metering and measurement in the Murray–Darling Basin. It is also committed to enhancing the transparency, consistency and accessibility of water information in the Basin, particularly for the northern Basin.

The Australian Government has funded the $35 million Enhanced Water Monitoring and Information (EWMI) Program, to enhance water measurement and monitoring, address compliance concerns and improve community confidence in the Murray–Darling ­Basin Plan.

Through this program 4 projects are being developed and implemented with involvement from 6 government agencies to June 2023, including:

The projects will contribute to the better measurement of water diversions and in-stream flows and increasing the use of emerging monitoring technologies such as remote sensing.

A northern Basin information portal will also be developed to provide increased transparency of up-to-date water information to the public. While initially northern Basin-focussed, it is anticipated that in the long-term, other Basin states may wish to collaborate in working together to enhance water monitoring and information for the whole of the Murray–Darling Basin.

Updated: 11 Feb 2021