Technology developed by ASX is being used by blockchain startup Civic Ledger in a pilot that aims to improve the trading of water rights.
It's hoped the initiative in far North Queensland may provide a model for IT infrastructure to manage the fractious national water market.
Irrigators in the Atherton Tablelands will test the new Water Ledger platform to trade temporary water allocations. The trial will be of interest to policy makers seeking to improve transparency of water management in the Murray-Darling Basin.
Civic Ledger is running the pilot with the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia. The CRC is seeking to unlock $13 billion of agricultural opportunities for the north of Australia including the potential water market between Western Australia, the Northern Territory and north Queensland.
The project will determine if distributed ledger, or blockchain, technology is the right system to improve transparency in a market currently run by multiple operators with different rules and difficult-to-access data.
Meanwhile, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will provide an interim report to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg by the end of this month after examining ways to improve the operation of water markets using Murray-Darling Basin. It may call for different registries and markets to be set up in a way that allows them to connect with each other.
Amid a trust deficit between the states and federal government over water rights, Ms Donaghy said blockchain technology will allow state governments to retain sovereignty. That's because the DAML 'smart contract' language can set business rules for each jurisdiction, allowing a national platform to be tailored for local regulations.
“With national infrastructure we could have a national water account, so you know at any point in time how much water is in the market, how much is liquid, who is trading, what is the value of the water and how we optimise the agricultural economics,” she said.