CRNA and Civic Ledger scaling next generation water markets in northern Australia

CRNA and Civic Ledger scaling next generation water markets in northern Australia

The world’s first blockchain-based water market will go live in Far North Queensland mid-2022 to address growing water security issues and protect fair access to water.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) is partnering with Civic Ledger, FNQ Growers, and Inclusive Growth Partners to de-risk agriculture development with grower-led water markets across Northern Australia.

Civic Ledger will test the paradigm of next generation water markets at scale by establishing the platform to enable the Mareeba-Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme (MDWSS) in the Atherton Tablelands, far north Queensland, to move to its blockchain-enabled water market and trading platform – Water Ledger.

Water Ledger is the world’s first blockchain-based platform for the accounting and trading of water entitlements and allocations. The result is a more open, transparent, and publicly verifiable system to support improved water management and enhance the water trading experience with water rights that are clearly defined, enforceable, and transferable.

“The CRCNA and Civic Ledger are working together on the rollout of Water Ledger in the MDWSS as ‘a strategic research test-bed’ that has applicability across Northern Australia for real time continuous water accounting and grower-led trading. Our aim is for water markets that implement transparent governance frameworks and support the sustainable economic development of Northern Australia.”
-Anne Stünzner, CRCNA CEO

The partnership will explore the interconnectedness between water market design and institutional governance goals to address water security and social equity issues relating to water access.

“Industry and agricultural communities need to have confidence in Northern Australia’s emerging water markets,” says Far North Queensland Growers’ President, Joe Moro. “We are working closely with CRCNA, Civic Ledger, and Inclusive Growth Partners to design place-based governance models that support emerging grower-led water markets in Northern Australia.”

“The nation relies on our avocados and mangoes – we need a water market platform that we can trust, so that the crops that we plant today have the water they need tomorrow,” he continued.

“We expect new economic opportunities to be developed in Northern Australia through enhancing water market governance and participation,” says Managing Partner of Inclusive Growth Partners, Cassian Drew. “Our place-based investment and governance platform will support growers, indigenous Australians and investors to create and participate in new opportunities enabled by Water Ledger and the work of FNQ Growers and the CRCNA.”

During 2020, Civic Ledger conducted the world’s first pilot for trading temporary water allocations on the blockchain in partnership with the CRCNA and FNQ Growers in the MDWSS.

MDWSS is in Far North Queensland, Australia. Water from Tinaroo Falls Dam is distributed by gravity to farms, dwellings, and townships through 176km of main channel and a further 189km of subsidiary channels. There are five balancing storages to supply 1000 water users growing diverse crops including sugar cane, mangoes, bananas, pawpaw, citrus, and avocados.

“We at Civic Ledger are thrilled that the outcome from the pilot was so positive,” says Civic Ledger CEO, Katrina Donaghy. “Now, we are excited to continue our partnership with CRCNA and FNQ Growers, building a lively peer to peer water trading culture in Far North Queensland that fosters the sustainable development of Queensland’s tropical heartland.”

Blockchain is an emerging way for industries and government to make and verify transactions, streamlining processes, reducing the potential for error and fraud.

Blockchain supports water markets with its ability to provide a verifiable record of exchange and ownership of a water allocation at any given time. A key advantage of blockchain is that as a system it is owned by all those who participate in the water market. No one can have more information than another meaning that it cannot be operated in the interest of only a few.

During the 2019-20 pilot, Water Ledger reduced trade times down from months to mere days – the time that it took to get trade approval from the market operator, as the actual trades on the blockchain only take seconds. Most importantly, it published the last traded price in real time – no price, no trade.

“Water resources around the world are becoming scarcer and it’s vital that we protect them with the absolute best in management practices. We are confident that Water Ledger is best-in-class to deliver the most reliable solutions to mitigate future uncertainty and ensure water security across Northern Australia.” -Katrina Donaghy, Civic Ledger CEO

“It’s vital that we only use the most accurate and trustworthy data in making water management decisions and blockchain technology helps us do that. The planned adoption and scale-up of the Water Ledger will be enable the emergence of an efficient and active grower-led water market in Northern Australia for decades to come,” says Civic Ledger CEO, Katrina Donaghy.

Civic Ledger, CRCNA, Inclusive Growth Partners and FNQ Growers will work together over the year to assist more than 1,000 growers onto the Water Ledger platform. Moving the MDWSS onto Water Ledger is expected to be completed during Q2, 2022, with the results from the project published in a report at the end of 2022. Moving the MDWSS water markets onto Water Ledger is the precursor to scaling blockchain-enabled water markets across Northern Australia.