South East Queensland
Administration

Surface water and groundwater

Water legislation

Surface water legislation

The Water Act 2000 (Qld) (the Water Act) provides the authority for the administration of basic water rights and water entitlements (interim allocations, water licences and water allocations) in Queensland. The Water Act is supported by the Water Regulation 2002 (Qld) (the Water Regulation) which provides details on the procedures and fees associated with water access entitlements and trading. The terminology used in this legislation and water management plans differs from that used in the National Water Account. Table A1 shows the terminology used in Queensland for water management, and the equivalent term in the National Water Account.


Table A1. Comparison of 2011 Account and Queensland terminology
2011 Account
Equivalent Queensland terminology
Water access entitlement Water allocation
Interim water allocation
Water licence
Water allocation Announced allocation
Regulated Supplemented
Unregulated Unsupplemented
Entitlement trade Allocation trade
Allocation trade Seasonal water assignments
Security Priority

Under section 38 of the Water Act, the relevant minister may prepare a water resource plan (WRP) for any part of Queensland to advance the sustainable management of water. WRPs may be prepared for, but are not limited to, the purposes listed under section 38(3) of the Water Act.

There are WRPs in place to manager water across the entire South East Queensland (SEQ) region.

The Water Act vests all rights to the use, flow and control of water in the State of Queensland.

Groundwater legislation

The Water Act legislation, as discussed in Surface water legislation also applies to groundwater. In the Water Act groundwater is referred to as underground water.

Water management plans

A number of water management instruments, including water resource plans (WRPs), are used in the SEQ region. These are described in Table A2.

The SEQ region contains three water management areas: Gold Coast, Logan Basin and Moreton. The former Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) finalised water resource plans and resource operation plans for each of these three areas.

Within each WRP area, there is a number of water supply schemes (WSSs) made up of connected water supply infrastructure.

During the 2010–11 year DERM monitored the implementation of WRPs throughout the SEQ region. This function is now performed by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines and/or the Queensland Department of Energy and Water Supply. A resource operation plan (ROP) is used to implement a WRP in specified areas. A resource operation licence (ROL) (or interim resource operation licence [IROL]) provides a licence under which water supply infrastructure can be operated.

Water resource plans (WRPs):
  • detail how the Queensland Government aims to meet the catchments' social, economic and environmental needs
  • outline environmental flow objectives specific to the plan area
  • consider environmental values and water quality objectives
  • describe water allocation security objectives.
Resource operation plans (ROPs):
  • specify information for each regional WSS
  • detail how to operationally meet the water resource plan's environmental flow objectives and water allocation security objectives
  • describe how the water resources will be managed day to day to meet these needs
  • outline WSS licence holder flow management, infrastructure operating conditions, water sharing, monitoring and trading rules.
Resource operation licences (ROLs):
  • provide detail of the licence holder and the ROP to which the licence relates
  • may stipulate the water infrastructure, such as dams and weirs, covered by the licence
  • specify any conditions that the holder of the licence must comply with, including operating arrangements and water supply requirements.

Seqwater is the ROL (or iIROL) holder for all water supply schemes in the SEQ region, with the exception of the Cressbrook Creek WSS, which is held by Toowoomba Regional Council.

Interim resource operation licences (IROLs):
  • provide detail of the licence holder
  • may stipulate the water infrastructure, such as dams and weirs, covered by the licence
  • specify any conditions that the holder of the licence must comply with, including operating arrangements and water supply requirements
  • are granted in relation to infrastructure in an area where a ROP has not been approved or the infrastructure has not yet been included in a ROP.
  • WSSs with IROLs located within the Moreton WRP area are to be included within the Moreton ROP in the future, and the IROLs are then converted to ROLs.

The water management plans and WSSs in the SEQ region during the 2010–11 year are detailed in Table A2.

Areas not covered by the WSSs are managed as Queensland unsupplemented water rights (which, for national consistency, in the 2011 Account are referred to as 'unregulated water rights') under the Water Act, WRPs and ROPs.

Table A2. Water management plans in the South East Queensland region during the 2010–11 year
Water resource plan (WRP) Resource operation plan (ROP) Water supply scheme (WSS) and Resource operation licence (ROL) / Interim ROL (IROL)

Gold Coast WRP 2006

Gold Coast ROP 2010

Nerang WSS ROL (Seqwater)

Logan Basin WRP 2007

Logan Basin ROP 2009

Logan River WSS ROL (Seqwater)

Moreton WRP 2007

Moreton ROP 2009

Central Brisbane River and Stanley WSS ROL (Seqwater)
Cressbrook Creek WSS ROL
Pine Valleys WSS ROL (Seqwater)
Central Lockyer WSS IROL (Seqwater)1
Lower Lockyer WSS IROL (Seqwater)1
Warrill Valley WSS IROL (Seqwater)1

Notes:

  1. IROLs are not administered under a ROP.

Figure A1. Map of surface water management areas in the South East Queensland region
Figure A1. Map of surface water management areas in the South East Queensland region


Unallocated water (water in the consumptive pool not allocated to licence holders or needed for losses) may be held as a general, strategic or town water supply reserve. Unallocated water in a WRP area, if any, is identified in the WRP and a process for dealing with unallocated water is included in the ROP.

Groundwater management plans

All management plans that relate to groundwater were administered by the former Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) during the 2010–11 year. This function is now performed by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines and/or the Queensland Department of Energy and Water Supply. No groundwater management areas (GMAs) exist within the Gold Coast or Logan Basin WRP areas.

The following GMAs exist within the SEQ region:

  • Cressbrook Creek Alluvial
  • Lockyer Valley
  • Warrill Bremer Alluvial
  • Watercourse Buffer Zone.

Environmental water management

Environmental water legislation

The Water Act covers water for the environment. WRPs are produced in accordance with the Water Act and must establish environmental flow objectives, ecological outcomes and consider environmental values listed in the Environmental Protection (Water) Policy 2009.

Environmental water provisions

The environmental flow objectives in a WRP area are met through rules governing storage releases and limiting abstractions, with the aim to retain various temporal flow characteristics at different nodes along rivers. Environmental top-up releases are required from storages to ensure that environmental flow objectives are met. The volume required for release will vary depending upon the environmental flow objectives and flow conditions. Various performance indicators are used for assessing environmental flow objectives as described in the Environmental notes.

More details on specific environmental flow provisions can be found in the Moreton WRP (2006), Logan Basin WRP (2007) and Gold Coast WRP (2007).

Organisations responsible for water management

From 1 July 2008 to the present the water industry in the SEQ region underwent significant reform. Duringthis period, the number of water management and distribution entities was reduced from 21 to 6, and the role of the SEQ Water Grid Manager was created.

The 2011 Account reports on the status of water management during the 2010–11 year. Organisational changes that occurred prior to or after the 2010–11 year are reported in the Significant water events section of the account.


Table A3. Organisations responsible for water management in the South East Queensland region
Organisation Role Major storages operated within the region
Department of Environment and Resource Management Water policy, planning, management, entitlement administration and water service provider regulator during the 2010–11 year. This role is now performed by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines and/or the Queensland Department of Energy and Water Supply.
 None
SEQ Water Grid Manager Urban utility: wholesale
Holds urban entitlements with the region
Manages SEQ Water Grid
Purchases services to store, treat, produce and transport bulk water
Sell treated water to local councils, power stations and other businesses
 None
Seqwater Surface water storage manager
Bulk water supplier
Manage the majority of WSS in the SEQ region
ROL and IROL holder
Advancetown Lake (Hinze Dam)
Bromelton Off-Stream Storage
Cedar Grove Weir
Enoggera Reservoir
Gold Creek Reservoir
Lake Atkinson (Atkinson Dam)
Lake Clarendon 
Lake Dyer (Bill Gunn Dam)
Lake Kurwongbah
Lake Manchester (Cabbage Tree Creek Dam)
Lake Maroon
Lake Moogerah
Lake Samsonvale (North Pine Dam)
Lake Somerset
Lake Wivenhoe
Little Nerang Dam
Mount Crosby Weir
Tingalpa (Leslie Harrison Dam)
Wyaralong Dam
LinkWater Infrastructure operator
Transports through the SEQ Water Grid
 None
WaterSecure Infrastructure operator
Supply water from the Gold Coast Desalination Plan
Supply water from the Western Corridor Recycled Water Project
 None
Tarong Energy Power generator Splityard Creek Dam
Allconnex Water Urban utility: retail  None
Queensland Urban Utilities Urban utility: retail  None
Unitywater Urban utility: retail  None
Toowoomba Regional Council Urban utility: retail
Surface water store manager

Manages Cressbrook Creek WSS
Cressbrook Creek ROL holder
Lake Cressbrook
Lake Perseverance

Notes:

  1. WaterSecure merged with Seqwater on 1 July 2011.
  2. The assets of Tarong Energy were split between Stanwell Corporation and CS Energy on 1 July 2011. Tarong Energy became a subsidiary of Stanwell Corporation.
  3. A number of councils previously having an urban utility role were merged into three new urban utility retailers: Allconnex Water, Queensland Urban Utilities and Unitywater on July 1 2010.
  4. Other councils, of which part of their administrative area lies within the SEQ region, include Sunshine Coast Regional Council and South Burnett Regional Council.
Organisations managing surface water and groundwater

The surface water and groundwater licensing authority in SEQ during the 2010–11 year was the former Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM). DERM was responsible for surface water policy planning, management and entitlement administration. This function is now performed by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines and/or the Queensland Department of Energy and Water Supply.

Seqwater is the ROL holder for all but one of the WSS in the SEQ region. Toowoomba Regional Council is the ROL holder for the Cressbrook Creek WSS. ROL holders manage the surface water infrastructure associated with the WSS, including reservoirs, dams and weirs within the scheme in accordance with the ROP. ROL holders also administer the announced allocations within the WSS, calculating the announced allocation using the methodology stipulated in the ROP. ROL holders monitor water levels at various points within the WSS to ensure compliance with the ROP requirements. In addition to managing surface water storages within WSS, Seqwater also manages a number of reservoirs, dams and weirs on watercourses outside of WSS, mainly for the purpose of supplying the SEQ Water Grid Manager with water from their unsupplemented licences for urban use.

Organisations managing urban water

The SEQ Water Grid Manager is a Queensland Government–owned statutory body that is responsible for managing the strategic operation of the southeast Queensland water supply network. The SEQ Water Grid Manager owns the urban water entitlements in SEQ and is responsible for managing the SEQ Water Grid. During the 2010–11 year it managed the delivery of bulk water to the three urban retailers: Allconnex Water, Queensland Urban Utilities and Unitywater, and purified recycled water to Tarong and Swanbank power stations.

Seqwater provides bulk water storage and treatment services to the SEQ Water Grid, managing WSSs, surface water storages and borefields across the SEQ region. Seqwater is the ROL holder for all but one of the WSS in the SEQ region. During the 2010–11 year WaterSecure supplied water from the Gold Coast Desalination Plant and Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme to the SEQ Water Grid Manager. As of 1 July 2011 this role has moved across to Seqwater.

Queensland Bulk Water Transport Authority (LinkWater) transports potable water from Seqwater treatment plants and surface water storages through bulk transmission pipelines for the SEQ Water Grid Manager to the distribution networks.

The South–East Queensland Water (Distribution and Retail Restructuring) Act 2009 resulted in the formation of three distribution and retail organisations in SEQ on 1 July 2010. Allconnex Water, Queensland Urban Utilities and Unitywater have provided distribution and retail of potable water to customers of the SEQ Water Grid since this date. These organisations also provide wastewater collection and treatment services for the Brisbane, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Logan, Moreton Bay, Redlands, Scenic Rim, Somerset and Sunshine Coast areas. Figure A2 shows the service areas for the three new entities and the council areas that they cover.


Figure A2. Map of surface water management areas in the South East Queensland region
Figure A2. Map of surface water management areas in the South East Queensland region


Some areas of the SEQ region not connected to the SEQ Water Grid are still provided with water and wastewater services by their local councils, such as Toowoomba and South Burnett regional councils. Toowoomba Regional Council is also the holder of the ROL for the Cressbrook Creek WSS.