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South East Queensland

                                                                                                   

Water Rights

                             

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

 

Operating Rules and Constraints

In 2008, new water restriction rules were introduced for use across all Councils in the South East Queensland (SEQ) region. The water restriction levels are: high, medium, low and permanent water conservation measures.

The Queensland Water Commission managed decisions about water restrictions across the SEQ region during 2009–10.

From 1 July to 30 November 2009, either high or medium level restrictions were in force for all Councils in the SEQ region. From 1 December 2009, permanent conservation measures were underway consistently across all Councils in the region.


Table R1. Queensland Water Commission water restriction levels in force in the South East Queensland region during 2009-10

Restriction level

Start date

End date

Councils

High

31 July 2008

10 April 2009

Brisbane CC, Gold Coast CC, Ipswich CC, Lockyer Valley RC, Logan CC, Moreton Bay RC, Scenic Rim RC¹ and Somerset RC

Medium

11 April 2009

30 November 2009

Brisbane CC, Gold Coast CC, Ipswich CC, Lockyer Valley RC, Logan CC, Moreton Bay RC, Scenic Rim RC¹ and Somerset RC

Permanent conservation measures

1 December 2009

Current as at 30 June 2010

Brisbane CC, Gold Coast CC, Ipswich CC, Lockyer Valley RC, Logan CC, Moreton Bay RC, Redland CC, Scenic Rim RC, Somerset RC, Sunshine Coast RC

Table Notes:

  1.   
  2. Scenic Rim Regional Council except for the part of the Scenic Rim Regional Council described as Boonah Shire Council before 15 March 2008. 
  3. Redland CC, Scenic Rim RC and the Sunshine Coast RC were not subjected to Queensland Water Commission water restrictions until 1 December 2009. Each of these councils imposed their own level of restrictions prior to this date.
  4. From the 8 January 2008 until 1 December 2009, the Gold Coast City Council had periods where restrictions were temporarily suspended when the main storage for the Gold Coast received significant inflows.

The Queensland Water Commission Restrictions website has more information on water restrictions and factsheets on the water saving initiatives for each restriction level.

Water Entitlements

In Queensland, the primary statutory legislation is the Water Act 200 (Qld). Under the Water Act 200 (Qld), authorisation to take water is generally via either:

  1. a statutory authorisation – the Water Act 200 (Qld) allows taking water for certain purposes or uses (e.g. riparian landholder watering of stock or for domestic purposes) without an entitlement
  2. a water entitlement – there are various types of licences or authorities to take water under the Water Act 200 (Qld), each with different conditions attached to them.

The Water Act 200 (Qld) recognises two distinct categories of water access entitlement:

  • ‘supplemented’ access to water within a water supply scheme
  • ‘unsupplemented’ access to water in a river or from groundwater.

‘Supplemented’ and ‘unsupplemented’ water access entitlements are managed and administered separately. For the purpose of the National Water Account 2010, the term ‘supplemented’ was equated to ‘regulated’ and ‘unsupplemented’ equated to ‘unregulated’. These are legislative terms and may not precisely match the definitions used in the 2010 Account for ‘regulated’ and ‘unregulated’.

The annual volume able to be taken under a supplemented water entitlement will vary from year to year, and is referred to as an ‘annual announced limit’. The annual announced limit is based on the sharing rules and formulas noted in the resource operation plan for the water supply scheme (WSS), and the availability of water within the WSS.

The annual announced limit percentage varies between priority groups and between WSSs and is announced on the first day of the water year by the resource operation licence holders. If an annual announced limit percentage is initially below 100%, subsequent limits may be made to increase the percentage. The percentage cannot be reduced during a water year and once the annual announced limit percentage reaches 100%, no further increases to the limit can occur.

Types of water access entitlements

In Queensland, the Water Act 200 (Qld) recognises three types of water access entitlement.

Water allocations – these entitlements define the holder’s share of the water resource, do not attach to land and can be traded within the trading rules in the relevant plan. Water allocations do not expire. They may comprise a volumetric maximum rate of take, nominal volume, volumetric limit, flow conditions and other access conditions. The conversion of interim water allocations and water licences into water allocations occurs through the water planning process. Most of these conversions have already taken place in Queensland.

Interim water allocations – these entitlements define the holder’s share of the water resource, do attach to land and can not be traded unless specified in the Water Regulations 2002 (Qld). Interim water allocations do not expire. They may comprise a volumetric limit, flow conditions and other access conditions. The conversion of interim water allocations and water licences into water allocations occurs through the water planning process. Most of these conversions have already taken place in Queensland.

Water licences – these entitlements attach to land and are for a fixed period of time, usually between five and ten years. Conditions are attached to these licences which may include flow conditions, maximum rates of take, maximum pump sizes, storage conditions or any other conditions that may be applied. Licences are assigned to a specific location and are generally not tradable. Through the water planning process, water licences of this type were progressively converted into water allocations.

Refer to the Department of Environment and Resource Management, Water fact sheet series for further information.

 

Water Allocations

In the South East Queensland (SEQ) region, at the start of a water year, a limit is announced against an entitlement and is expressed as a percentage. This is used to determine the maximum volume of water that may be taken by a water rights holder in a water year. Additional announcements may be made during the year if additional water becomes available. Urban holders of regulated entitlements have the same announced limit applied to their entitlement as other regulated entitlement holders of the same priority entitlements. In general a water year is from 1 July to 30 June unless otherwise specified in the resource operation plan or interim resource operation plan (e.g. the Lower Lockyer WSS water year is from 1 April to 31 March).

Annual announced limits are announced on the water supply scheme operator’s website (e.g. Seqwater).

 

Trades and Water Right Transfers

Water rights in Queensland are separate from land rights and are tradeable and registered on the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management’s (DERM) water asset register. There are currently markets for surface water rights trade only, but markets for groundwater rights trade may be developed in the future.

The rules for trade of water entitlements (permanent trades) are detailed in the relevant resource operation plan.

The rules for water allocation trading (temporary trades) are detailed in the Water Regulations 2002 (Qld), and the relevant resource operation plan and interim resource operation licence.

For more information on water trading types in Queensland, see the Department of Environment and Resource Management’s water trading website.

Information on water rights trading in the South East Queensland (SEQ) region during 2009–10 can be found in the region notes, water rights, entitlements, allocations and trade.

 

Water Market Rules: Interstate Trading

There is no interstate trading between the South East Queensland (SEQ) region and New South Wales. For more information on trading during the reporting period, see region notes, water rights, entitlements, allocations and trade.

 

Water market Rules: Inter-valley Trading

There was no trade within the South East Queensland (SEQ) region and any other part of Queensland during 2009–10. For more information on trading during the reporting period, see region notes, water rights, entitlements, allocations and trade.

 

Restrictions on Trade

As final resource operation plans were not released until December 2009, there was no trading of water entitlements in the period 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010 in the Gold Coast, Logan and Moreton WRP areas.