Adelaide
Water access

Water rights, entitlements, allocations and restrictions

Introduction

This note provides information about the water access rights granted by jurisdictions to the users of the region's water resources and the associated allocation announcements, diversions and forfeitures – adjustments. Information about restrictions to water access rights is also included in this note.

The 2011 Account acknowledges the varying jurisdictional legislative water resource management frameworks related to Australian rights to water that support water resource management in Australia. The legislative water resource management frameworks vary greatly between jurisdictions, sometimes making comparisons difficult. To facilitate meaningful comparison between the water accounting reports included in the National Water Account 2011, the Bureau of Meteorology has developed and applied an accounting concept to classify and report water entitlements within a water-asset/water-liability framework.

According to that framework, surface water rights are categorised broadly into:

Groundwater rights are categorised broadly into:

Surface water rights

The National Water Account 2011 acknowledges the varied terminology used by jurisdictions to describe and classify their water resources. The term surface water has a different meaning to that used by the South Australian legislation.

To provide national consistency across multiple jurisdictions, the 2011 Account defines surface water as:

  • water connected, either seasonally or perennially, to the rivers and not yet abstracted for consumptive purpose. It includes water administered by jurisdictions and water stored in surface water storages. It excludes water in off-channel water, urban water systems and irrigation schemes.

This classification differs from the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (South Australia) which defines:

  • Surface water as water flowing over the land, whether modified or not, excluding water contained in a watercourse.
  • Watercourse water is defined as water flowing in a river, creek or other natural watercourse, whether modified or not, with defined bed and banks.
  • Water held in infrastructure such as dams, reservoirs and stormwater schemes are assigned to either surface water or watercourse water based on the location of the infrastructure. Channels used to divert watercourse water are a modification to the watercourse and therefore part of the watercourse. 

Following the 2011 Account definition, water rights are reported in the following way:

  • water rights associated with diverting water from a watercourse (river/stream/channel) are reported as surface water rights.

In the Adelaide region surface water rights that create a liability include surface water rights for the Barossa Prescribed Water Resources Area (PWRA) and are reported at line item 32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocation diversion. All other surface water diversions in the Adelaide region are reported at line item 32.1 Other statutory surface water rights.

There are no seasonally applied restrictions to water access entitlements. Restrictions only apply to modifications of existing water licences (e.g. trade) and approval of new water licences.

Tables 1 summarises, for the surface water resource, the volumes of the entitlements on issue, the allocations announced, the actual abstractions and use of allocation, and the forfeiture and adjustments of allocations during the 2010–11 year. Note that water abstraction/use (line item 17.8) shown in Table 1 for the urban water system does not appear in the water accounting statements because they are transactions that occurred within the region. These transactions did not impact the region's water assets and water liabilities.

More information about the items presented in Table 1 is provided in the linked line item notes.

Table 1. Summarised information for surface water rights in the Adelaide region
Water rights (at 30 June 2011) Water allocation (2010-11) Water abstraction/use (2010-11) Forfeiture– adjustment (2010-11)
Reporting line item Volume (ML) Reporting line item Volume (ML) Reporting line item Volume (ML) Reporting line item Volume (ML)

32.1 Other statutory surface water rights

  n/a  

17.6

2,728 n/a  
  n/a  

17.8

120,014 n/a  

32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocation diversion

 2,759

21.1

2,759

17.11

1,234

13.1

1,525
Total  2,759   2,759   123,976   1,525
n/a - not applicable
Groundwater rights

In the Adelaide region groundwater water rights that create a water liability include groundwater water rights for the:

  • Barossa PWRA
  • McLaren Vale Prescribed Wells Area (PWA)
  • Northern Adelaide Plains PWA.

In the Adelaide region the allocation of managed aquifer recharge credits also creates a water liability. In the Adelaide region all prescribed groundwater resources with an operational water allocation plan contain provisions for recharged water credits. For clarity of presentation, where possible the distinction between groundwater allocations and managed aquifer recharge credits is shown. These water rights are reported at line item 33.3 Groundwater access entitlement for allocation extraction.

All other groundwater extractions in the Adelaide region are reported at line item 33.1 Other statutory groundwater rights.

Tables 2 summarises, for the groundwater resource, the volumes of the entitlements on issue, the allocations announced, the actual abstractions and use of allocation, and the forfeiture and adjustments of allocations during the 2010–11 year.

Table 2. Summarised information on groundwater rights in the Adelaide region
Water rights (at 30 June 2011) Water allocation (2010-11) Water abstraction/use (2010-11) Forfeiture, adjustment (2010-11)
Reporting line item Volume (ML) Line item Volume (ML) Line item Volume (ML) Line item Volume (ML)

33.1 Other statutory groundwater rights

n/a n/a n/a

18.7

29, 589
n/a n/a

33.3 Groundwater access entitlement for allocation extraction

Native groundwater 40,430

22.1

40,430

18.11

15,019

14.1

25,832
Recharged groundwater n/a

22.1

1,125
Total 40,430
  41,555   44,471   25,832
Landscape water rights

The 2011 Account defines landscape water as: all water in the natural environment that is not surface water or groundwater. Includes water in the unsaturated zone of the soil, on the flood plain or in water bodies that are disconnected from the rivers, such as natural lakes, ponds or wetlands.

This definition is comparable to the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (South Australia) term surface water, which defines surface water as: water flowing over land, including water in a dam or reservoir and excepting water in a watercourse.

Following the National Water Account 2011 definition, water rights associated with harvesting runoff (i.e. water flowing across the surface) are reported as landscape water rights.

In the Adelaide region landscape water rights that create a liability, include landscape water rights for the Barossa PWRA. All other landscape water rights within the Adelaide region are managed under a Notice of Prohibition.

The volume of off-channel water store water access entitlements in the Barossa PWRA is 1,991 ML. This volume includes 930 ML of area-based water licences converted to volume using the method described in the quantification approach.

Quantification Approach

Data source

South Australian Department for Water: Water Information and Licence Management Administration (WILMA) database.

Data provider

South Australian Department for Water.

Method

Landscape water taking allocations for the 2010–11 year were obtained from the WILMA database for the Barossa PWRA in the Adelaide region (Table 3).

The licence purpose information for the Barossa PWRA reflects the purpose of the licence when issued or possibly when adjusted. Some allocations for the Barossa PWRA are area based. Area-based allocations were converted to volumes using the guidelines on p35 of the Barossa Water Allocation Plan.


Table 3. Landscape water allocations in the Barossa PWRA
Purpose Type Volume (ML)
Industrial                     Volumetric 44
Irrigation Area based 930
Volumetric 517
Stock and domestic Volumetric 500
TOTAL 1,991


Assumptions, limitations, caveats and approximations
  • The method assumed that irrigation crop area conversion rates stated in Table 15 of the Barossa PWRA Water Allocation Plan represent an equivalent volumetric allocation.
  • Some irrigators can negotiate different conversion rates based on individual circumstances. Individually negotiated conversions are not considered in this method. 

Uncertainty information

The uncertainty estimate was not quantified.

Water market activity

Purpose of the note

This region note reports on water market activities that occurred during the 2010-11 year in the Adelaide region.

Content of the note

In the Adelaide region, trade or lease of water entitlements and allocations does not occur between prescribed areas consumptive pools but can occur within them.

Accordingly, surface water trade reported for the Adelaide region during the 2010–11 year includes surface water entitlement trades and leases within prescribed surface water resource areas in the Adelaide region. Surface water market activity is reported for trades of surface water entitlements within the Barossa Prescribed Water Resources Area (PWRA).

Similarly, groundwater trade reported for the Adelaide region during the 2010–11 year includes groundwater entitlement, and allocation trades and leases within prescribed groundwater resource areas in the Adelaide region.

Groundwater market activity is reported for the:

  • McLaren Vale Prescribed Wells Area (PWA)
  • Northern Adelaide Plains PWA
  • Barossa PWRA.

The following information on water trades is reported in this note:

  • approved permanent trade (change of ownership) of surface and groundwater entitlements
  • approved trade of groundwater allocations
  • approved lease of groundwater entitlements.

Surface water trade

Table 4. Summarised information on surface water trade within the Adelaide region during the 2010–11 year

Line item

Volume (ML)

No. of trades

Surface water entitlement trade

 

 

35.1 Trade of surface water entitlement within region

58

2

Groundwater trade

Table 5. Summarised information on groundwater trade within the Adelaide region during the 2010–11 year

Line item

Volume (ML)

No. of trades

Groundwater entitlement trade

 

 

38.1 Trade of groundwater entitlement within region

1,179

86

Groundwater entitlement lease

 

 

39.1 Lease of groundwater entitlement within region

646

35

Groundwater allocation trade

 

 

40.1 Groundwater allocation trade within region

164

18

Total

1,989

13

 

Water use

Economic, social and cultural benefit

Surface water and groundwater are used for economic purposes in the Adelaide region including urban potable, stock, rural domestic, irrigation, commercial and industrial purposes. The relevant water rights are detailed in the Water rights section of the Contextual information.

Social and cultural uses are not typically covered by water rights, even in prescribed areas. Stock and domestic water use, including indigenous use, is considered a basic right. These rights are described in the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (South Australia), the Australian Native Title Act 1983 and the Notice of Authorisation to Take Water for Stock and Domestic Purposes and for Native Title Purposes (published in the South Australian Government Gazette).

Social and cultural water use is licensed in specific instances as detailed in the relevant water allocation plan. For example, stock and domestic groundwater use is licensed in the Northern Adelaide Plains Prescribed Wells Area (PWA). There are also a small number of water licences for recreational use in the Little Para Prescribed Watercourse (PWC) and the Barossa Prescribed Water Resources Area (PWRA). For further information refer to the relevant water allocation plan (WAP):

Environmental benefit

Introduction

Information on legislative, administrative and governing arrangements of environmental water in the region is available in the Environmental water management section of the Contextual information.

In the Adelaide region, environmental water provisions are provided as:

  • planned unregulated surface water
  • planned partly regulated surface water.

In the planned unregulated surface water situation, environmental water requirements are met by controlling the water access regime through water allocation plans.

In the planned partly regulated surface water situation, environmental water requirements are met by operational releases from storages to control or influence flows.

For each method, the information, if available, is structured as follows:

  • Environmental water determinations: the environmental objectives. They are represented by Environmental Water Provisions (EWP) defining specific water levels and flow criteria at key representative sites that the water regime provided must meet.
  • Environmental water commitments: the instruments in place to achieve the environmental water determination, e.g. environmental water storage release rules, water access rules to limit abstractions, rules on diversion to wetlands and annual environmental watering plans.
  • Environmental water outcomes: the water regime that were provided and the extent of the compliance with respect to the criteria set in the EWP and the environmental water commitments.
Barossa Prescribed Water Resource Area: Planned unregulated surface water

Environmental water determination

Water allocation plans (WAPs) consider the capacity of the water resource to meet demands and the needs of water-dependent ecosystems in developing rules and principles for allocating water resources. In the Adelaide region, currently only the surface waters of the Barossa Prescribed Water Resource Area (PWRA) are managed by a WAP (Barossa PWRA WAP).

The Barossa PWRA WAP identifies ecological flow requirements for water-dependent ecosystems in three reaches of the North Para River, located within the managed area (Barossa PWRA WAP: p5, Figure 2). The ecological flow requirements considers different flow bands (baseflow, freshets, pool connection etc.) and identifies target stream flow regimes (volume, timing and frequency) for each of these flow bands. The ecological flow requirements for each reach are described in more detail in the Barossa PWRA WAP (p12–13: Tables 4–6) and were developed to ensure that the frequency and seasonality of stream flows closely resembles what would occur naturally.

Environmental water commitment

The environmental water commitment describes how the ecological flow objectives are achieved through the operation of the WAP. The Barossa PWRA WAP aims to ensure that the abstraction/diversion of water from a watercourse does not adversely affect downstream water-dependent ecosystems by reducing stream flow. This is achieved by the provision of passing flows during periods of flow at or below the threshold rate. The applicable threshold flow rates are described in more detail in principles 63–64 (p49–50) of the Barossa PWRA WAP.

Environmental water outcomes

Although the Barossa PWRA WAP describes target stream flows and rules associated with water licences to achieve this, these regimes are not used for monitoring or compliance.

Environmental water provision – SA Water: planned partly regulated surface water

Environmental water determination and commitment

There are currently no formal arrangements (i.e. licence conditions) that require SA Water to make environmental water releases from their storages. Nevertheless, environmental water provisions are provided for by SA Water through operations (spills) and releases from storages on a voluntary basis.

In previous years, SA Water and the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management (NRM) Board have conducted environmental flow trials on the Onkaparinga, Torrens and South Para rivers.

Environmental outcomes

In the 2010–11 year SA Water released around 730 ML, at a rate of approximately 2 ML per day, to the Little Para River from the Little Para Reservoir. Environmental provisions also included spills from storages in the order of a total of 20 GL in the Onkaparinga River system, 20–30 GL in the Torrens River system and 13 GL in the South Para River system.