cost of buying water

How Much Do We Usually Pay for Irrigation Water?

The Murray-Darling Basin, where over two third of Australia’s irrigation water goes to use, dominates irrigation in Australia. However, the basin produces just 6% of Australia’s total runoff. The three largest southern valleys of the Goulburn broken, Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers use most of the irrigation water. As a result, the cost of buying water in Australia is relatively high in these areas. 

Water used in Australian farms for Irrigation

During drought conditions, the requirement is for a high quantity of water, but the availability is lower. Agricultural production required 8 million megalitres of water. Crops and pastures took up 7.2 million megalitres of water, and irrigation for up to two million hectares of agricultural land was conducted. There were too many farms, around 21900, in Australia that used water for their lands. This is the amount of water used for irrigation in different avenues.

Irrigation for crops and pastures in Australia 

Most water used for farm irrigation is for watering crops and pastures. Around 1.3 million megalitres were applied for cotton, around 1 million megalitres for fruits and nuts, 882000 for sugarcane and 75600 for rice. 

2.2 million of the total water available was applied to pastures. Here is the distribution of water as it took place. 

  • For pastures and cereal fed off, 1.5 million megalitres 
  • For Cereals cut for hay, 45400 megalitres 
  • For the cut for the village, 214900 megalitres 

The Murray Darling Basin

This area receives lower than average rainfall. This results in droughts in many catchment areas, bringing in less water in that region for irrigation. This region uses 62% or almost two-thirds of Australia’s total water. This region has 1,1 million hectares of agricultural land that needs irrigation, and there is a requirement of 4.4 million megalitres of water for this purpose. 

63% of water in this region goes for cotton cultivation, pastures for grazing and trees with fruit and nuts in the Murray Darling Basin. The water distribution is as follows- 1.2 million megalitres for cotton, 803000 megalitres for pastures for grazing and serial crops, and around 769000 megalitres of water for trees producing fruits and nuts. 

These indicate the quantity of water utilised for irrigation purposes. As the amount of water is high, naturally, the price charged will also be high. 

Water expenditure in Australia 

The expenditure on additional water purchased on a non-permanent basis reached a record level when there was a purchasing of huge volumes of water. 

$334 million was spent temporarily for extra water, and there was a purchase of $104 million of irrigation water. $266 million of the total cost amounted to the total irrigation charges. 

You can easily see for yourself how costly irrigation water is. So, you need to spend the water wisely and even your money. 1.2 million megalitres of extra water were purchased temporarily, and 114,000 extra water for irrigation purposes in Australia were purchased permanently. This allows you to see how high the cost of buying water for irrigation in Australia is. 

Irrigation in Australia

Australia is the driest inhabited continent, so irrigation is exceptionally high in demand to supplement low rainfall and assist in growing crops and pastures. That is why there is a huge quantity of irrigation water for sale. However, some environmental issues, like soil salinity, lead to mismanagement or overuse of irrigation. 

In the level of intensity and production, irrigation differs from dryland farming. Common crops mainly produced using irrigation are rice, cotton, canola, sugar, fruits, and other tree crops. Pasture, hay and grain for beef and dairy production also require irrigation. Surface irrigation and centre pivot are the most common irrigation methods in Australia. 

During the 1880s, the introduction of the first large-scale irrigation schemes in Australia took place to respond to droughts. In 2004, The country adopted the more comprehensive National Water Initiative. A Great Artesian Basin is the major source of groundwater in Australia. River systems and underground aquifers are the two primary sources from where water comes. 


By now, you must know the cost of buying water for irrigation and the investment of money to purchase it. There is also a huge amount of irrigation water for sale as Australia often experiences droughts.