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Adelaide

                                                                                                   

Water Rights

                             

The operating rules and constraints governing water entitlements, allocations, trades and transfers are provided on this page.

 

Operating Rules and Constraints

Prescribed resources

Water allocation plans set the objectives and principles for allocating and transferring water rights and managing activities that affect prescribed water resources. Water-affecting activity permits are used to manage activities that can potentially have adverse impacts on the condition of water resources more generally, such as the construction of dams and bores. 

Urban water restrictions

In times of severe water shortages SA Water can implement a regime of water conservation or restriction measures on behalf of the South Australian Minister for Water. In recent years these ranged from Permanent Water Conservation Measures (PWCM) through to Level 3 enhanced restrictions. As of 1 December 2010, Level 3 enhanced restrictions were removed and Water Wise Measures introduced. South Australia does not have a defined set of water restriction levels; specific levels and conditions are announced as the need arises.

Urban water restrictions in place in the Adelaide region during 2009–10 are shown in Table R1.

Table R1. Water restrictions that applied during 2009–10

Water supply area

Water restriction level

Date restriction level implemented

Date restriction level altered

Adelaide–Murray supply areas

Level 3 enhanced

(non-daylight saving)

5 Apr 2009

4 Oct 2009

Level 3 enhanced ii

Watering hours changed (daylight saving)

4 Oct 2009

17 Nov 2009

Level 3 enhanced iii

Watering hours increased to 5 hours/week

17 Nov 2009

4 Apr 2010

Level 3 enhanced iv

Watering hours changed (non-daylight savings)

4 Apr 2010

2 May 2010

Level 3 enhanced v

Watering hours increased to 7 hours/week

2 May 2010

1 Dec 2010

Water Wise Measures

Ongoing water conservation regime: watering permitted at any time

1 Dec 2010

 -

 

Water Entitlements

In the Adelaide region the taking and use of water is authorised under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (South Australia). These authorisations are referred to as ‘water entitlements’.

Water entitlements under the National Resources Management Act 2004 are administered by the South Australian Government’s Department for Water by delegation from the Minister for Environment and Conservation (Table R2). Native title holders, as determined under the Native Title Act 1993, can take water for cooking, washing and drinking purposes.

Table R2. Water entitlements under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 relevant to the Adelaide region

Entitlement

Relevant water resources

Notes

Water licence

Prescribed water resources

 

Refer to relevant water allocation plans

 

Authorisations under section 128 of the Natural Resources Management Act 2004

 

Prescribed water resources

Authorisations gazetted in South Australian Government Gazette: Gazette Online

Used for the following purposes:

  • roof run-off up to 500 kL
  • firefighting
  • road making
  • control of pests, plants and animals on non-irrigated land
  • stormwater capture and reuse projects
  • other authorisations.

Authorisations under section 132 of the National Resources Management Act 2004

Water resources not declared as prescribed

Authorisations gazetted in South Australian Government Gazette: Gazette Online

An authorisation to prohibit or restrict the taking of water to facilitate sustainable management of the water resources.

Stock and domestic purpose

Prescribed water resources

Water resources not declared as prescribed

For resources not declared as prescribed or where the regulation declaring the resource as prescribed does not exclude the operation of section 124(4) of the National Resources Management Act 2004, then the taking and use of water is authorised by section 124(4) of the Act.

The Northern Adelaide Plains prescribed wells area is the only prescribed resource where the operation of section 124(4) is excluded and a licence is required for stock and domestic purposes.

Basic right

Prescribed water resources

Water resources not declared as prescribed

Allows the taking of water for the purposes of drinking or cooking under section 124(6) of the National Resources Management Act 2004.

Water licences

Water licences relevant to the Adelaide region are summarised in Table R3. All water licences in the region have entitlements expressed as a volume per year except for the Barossa prescribed water resources area where some licences have entitlements expressed as an area of crop to be irrigated per year. These latter water licences are in the final stages of conversion to volumetric entitlements. 

Table R3. Summary of water licences in the Adelaide region

Prescribed area

Prescribed water resources

Purpose/ security class

Water resource operation

Barossa prescribed water resources area

Groundwater^

Surface water*

Irrigation

Industrial

Unregulated water resources

Northern Adelaide Plains prescribed wells area

Groundwater^

 

Irrigation

Industrial

Stock and domestic

McLaren Vale prescribed wells area

Groundwater^

No purpose stated

Little Para prescribed watercourse

Surface water – watercourse only**

Irrigation

Central Adelaide prescribed wells area

Groundwater^

 

Water licences finalised when water allocation plan is adopted

Western Mount Lofty Ranges prescribed water resources area

(including watercourses across the plains i.e. River Torrens, Onkaparinga River and Gawler River prescribed watercourses)

Groundwater^

Surface water*

Water licences for existing users to be finalised. New users to be considered when water allocation plan is adopted

Unregulated water resources

SA River Murray prescribed watercourse

Water is physically used in the Adelaide region, but allocated on River Murray water access entitlements

Surface water – watercourse only**

Class 1, 3a, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9

 

Regulated water resources

^ Referred to as ‘underground’ water by the Department for Water. The term covers all water occurring naturally underground.

* Includes water resources referred to as ‘surface water’ (catchment water resources including farm dams, run-off and storm water) and ‘watercourse’ (from river channel) by the Department for Water.

** Referred to as ‘watercourse’ water by the Department for Water.

 

Water Allocations

Allocation announcements

The water licences within the Adelaide region are not subject to formal annual allocation announcements. Water allocations are deemed to be 100% of the water licence volume (or irrigated area) and are available to the licence holder at 1 July each year. The allocations are not subject to any kind of restrictions.

Carryover credits

Any unused allocations at 30 June each year are forfeited, but the volume forfeited forms credits used to calculate partial carryover into the next year. Carryover allocations can accrue over a number of years. Credits amass from unused allocations and other sustainable practices. Only the McLaren Vale prescribed wells area and the Barossa prescribed water resources area have a provision for carryover in their water allocation plans. The conditions for carryover allocations in each of the prescribed areas are presented in Table R4.

Table R4. Conditions for carryover allocations in prescribed areas within the Adelaide region

Prescribed area

Prescribed resource

Carryover limit as a percentage of annual entitlement

Barossa prescribed water resource area

Surface water and watercourse

Up to 30%

Underground

Up to 10%

Northern Adelaide Plains prescribed wells area

Underground

Carryover not permitted

McLaren Vale prescribed wells area

Underground

Up to 30%

Little Para prescribed watercourse

Watercourse

Carryover not permitted

Central Adelaide prescribed wells area

Underground

Yet to be determined

Western Mount Lofty Ranges prescribed water resources area

Surface water, watercourse and underground

Yet to be determined

Recharge credits

Recharge credits are used to calculate recharge allocations on groundwater licences. Recharge credits accrue from water drained or discharged into a well within the prescribed groundwater resource. The conditions for recharge allocations in each of the prescribed areas are presented in Table R5. 

Table R5. Conditions for recharge allocations in prescribed areas within the Adelaide region

Prescribed area

Period after which recharge allocation expires

Source of water used to recharge the groundwater resource

Recharge allocation limit as a percentage of volume recharged

Barossa prescribed water resource area

2 years after recharge year

Local surface water and watercourse

Up to 80%

Imported water

Up to 100%

Northern Adelaide Plains prescribed wells area

Up to 5 years

Not specified

Generally up to 80%

McLaren Vale prescribed wells area

Within 3 years of recharge year

Local surface water and watercourse

Up to 75%

Imported or effluent water

Up to 100%

Central Adelaide prescribed wells area

Yet to be determined

-

Yet to be determined

Western Mount Lofty Ranges prescribed water resources area

Yet to be determined

-

Yet to be determined

Trades and Water Right Transfers

Water Market Rules: Interstate Trading

In the Adelaide region, water trading can occur within prescribed resources according to the rules set out in the relevant water allocation plan. There are no provisions for interstate trade of water rights other than transfers in respect to the River Murray prescribed watercourse. Some River Murray prescribed watercourse (PWC) licence holders can participate in interstate water trading depending on the class of their licence (Table R6). They can transport water into the Adelaide region, but the water rights remain as River Murray PWC water rights. The water is transported through pipelines by a commercial arrangement with SA Water. River Murray PWC licence holders who use water within the Adelaide region are governed by the regulations of the River Murray PWC water allocation plan.  

Table R6. Trade restrictions on River Murray licences

Class

Former purpose

Tradeable?

1

Domestic and stock watering

Yes

2

Country towns

Yes

3a

Irrigation

Yes

3b

Irrigation – Qualco Sunland Groundwater Control Trust area

Yes

4

Recreation

Yes

5

Industrial and dairy

Yes

6

Metropolitan Adelaide

No

7

Environment

Yes

8

Environmental land management

Yes

9

Wetland management

Yes

Source: Water for Good; River Murray PWC water allocation plan (2009)

Water market Rules: Inter-valley Trading

The rules specified in the respective water allocation plans only allow trade of water rights within the boundary of each prescribed area. The prescribed areas that permit water trading within the Adelaide region are:

  • Barossa prescribed water resource area
  • Northern Adelaide Plains prescribed wells area
  • McLaren Vale prescribed wells area
  • Little Para prescribed watercourse.

Within each prescribed area all trades are assessed by the Department for Water based on the principles and objectives stated in the relevant water allocation plan. For more details on these rules, refer to Restrictions on trade.

 The recent trends in temporary and permanent water trading for prescribed areas of the Adelaide region are shown in Figure R1.

Figure R1. Graph of intra-valley trade in the Adelaide region

Figure R1. Graph of permanent and temporary trade within the prescribed areas of the Adelaide region. Source: modified from South Australian Department for Water records listed in Water Trading in South Australia. Note: temporary refers to trade in water allocations and permanent refers to trade in water entitlements

 

Restrictions on Trade

The Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (South Australia) sets the rules that govern water trading, including the following:

  • water markets only exist where a water resource was prescribed. Outside of prescribed areas, water licensing and therefore water trade does not occur
  • water allocation plans within the Adelaide region do allow for trade of water rights to other prescribed areas
  • any proposed trade must be approved by the Minister for Environment and Conservation. This power is delegated to officers of the Department for Water.

The trade restrictions specific to prescribed areas in the Adelaide region are summarised in Table R7.

Table R7. Summary of restrictions on water trade within the Adelaide region in 2009–10

Prescribed area Duration of restrictions on trade (indicative) Trade subjected to Minister’s approval? Limit to the location of points of taking Limits to transfers to stressed areas/different salinities Limits to transfer between different resources Transfer outside prescribed area – prohibited Transfers of authorisation to take recharged water – limited Transfers of authorisation to take carryover – limited
Barossa prescribed water resources area: Groundwater June 2014 (revised WAP due for adoption) Yes – based on the principles and objectives in water allocation plan 300 ML within a 1 km radius  Generally prohibited to stressed areas  Generally prohibited from an area of high to low groundwater salinity Prohibited between different resource types Prohibited Only if the location of the point of taking is unchanged Only if the location of the point of taking is unchanged
Barossa prescribed water resources area: Surface water/ watercourse water Dam capacity must be adjusted according to the allocation transfer (requires a permit for water-affecting activities including property and sub-catchment capacity limits)   NA
Little Para prescribed watercourse June 2011 (incorporated in Western Mt Lofty Ranges prescribed water resources area) Yes NA NA NA NA NA
McLaren Vale prescribed wells area   Yes – based on the principles and objectives in water allocation plan   Generally prohibited to stressed areas Stressed areas can be defined by salinity Prohibited from east to west of the Willunga Fault Only if the location of the point of taking is unchanged for imported or effluent source water  Only within the same aquifer Prohibited
Northern Adelaide Plains prescribed wells area 2013 (revisedWAP incorporating Central Adelaide prescribed wells area due for adoption) Yes – based on the principles and objectives in water allocation plan Generally prohibited from an area of low intensity pumping to an area of high intensity pumping Generally prohibited from an area of high to low potentiometric surface Generally prohibited to Q1 and Q2 aquifers with low salinity Generally prohibited between different aquifers Prohibited NA

Note NA: not applicable; WAP: water allocation plan.