South East Queensland
Water access

Water rights, entitlements, allocations and restrictions

a. Introduction

This note provides information about the water access rights granted by jurisdictions to the users of the South East Queensland (SEQ) 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.

Information about restrictions to urban consumers is not included in this note, but rather in the System's interactions with the region section of the Urban system note and in the Contextual information, under Water rights, operating rules and constraints.

Other arrangements, contracts or inter–basin agreements that may or may not result in the creation of water assets and water liabilities are not reported here. These can be found in the Surface water note, Groundwater note and System's interactions with the region section of the Urban system 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 2011 Account, the Bureau of Meteorology has developed and applied an accounting concept to classify and report water rights within a water–asset/water–liability framework.

In the 2011 Account, the broad categories of water access entitlements relate to the capacity of an entitlement to create or not a water liability on the region's water resource and not to any jurisdictional classification.

Surface water rights are categorised broadly into:

Groundwater rights are categorised broadly into:

In the National Water Account 'Other statutory water rights' are defined as water rights conferred by water legislation (a water act or water sharing plan), for which there is no individual entitlement.

b. Surface water rights

The 2011 Account acknowledges the varied terminology used by jurisdictions to describe and classify their water entitlements.

In the 2011 Account, water rights associated in the SEQ region with diverting water from a watercourse (river/stream/channel) are reported as surface water rights.

In the SEQ region surface water rights that create a water liability include supplemented water access entitlements and are reported in line item 32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocation diversion.

All other surface water access entitlements in the SEQ region are unsupplemented and are reported in line item 32.2 Surface water access entitlement for direct diversion. Under those entitlements, no water liability was recognised in the 2011 Account prior to the diversion taking place.

Non-entitled water rights, such as riparian water rights are reported in line item 32.1 Other statutory surface water rights.

There are no seasonally applied restrictions to water access entitlements.

Table 1 summarises, for the surface water resource, the annual volumes of the water right (entitlement on issue or estimation of the other statutory water rights), the allocations announced, the actual abstractions and use of allocation, and the forfeiture and adjustments of allocations, during the 2010–11 year.


Table 1. Summarised information on surface water rights, allocations, abstractions, adjustments and forfeiture for the South East Queensland region during the 2010–11 year.
Water rights (at 30 June 2011) Water allocation (2010–11) Water abstraction/use
(2010–11)
Forfeiture, adjustment
(2010–11)
Line item Volume (ML) Line item Volume (ML) Line item Volume (ML) Line item Volume (ML)

32.1 Other statutory surface water rights

         3,628 NA NA

17.6

         3,628 NA NA

32.2 Surface water access entitlement for direct diversion

       33,106 NA NA

17.7

2,050 NA NA
NA NA

17.8

7,458 NA NA

32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocation diversion

516,130

21.1

73,304

17.11

5,905

13.1

66,841
 

21.2

442,826

17.12

197,328

13.2

245,498
Total
552,864   516,130   216,369   312,339

Notes:

  1. NA = not applicable.
  2. Note that water allocations, abstraction/use and forfeiture, adjustment shown in the Tables 1 for the urban water system do 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.
  3. More information about the items presented in Table 1 is provided in the linked line item notes.

c. Groundwater rights

In the SEQ region groundwater water rights that create a liability include groundwater water rights for the Benefitted Area of the Central Lockyer Valley Water Supply Scheme (refer to line item 18.11 Groundwater allocation extraction for a definition of Benefitted Area.)

These water rights are reported in line item 33.3 Groundwater access entitlement for allocation extraction.

All other licensed groundwater extractions in the SEQ region are unsupplemented. No water liability was recognised for them in the 2011 Account. The volumes of the corresponding entitlements could not be quantified (line item 33.2 Groundwater access entitlement for direct extraction).

Unlicensed groundwater extractions occurred outside groundwater management areas. No volumetric estimate for these groundwater rights was available (line item 33.1 Other statutory groundwater rights).

Table 2 summarises, for the groundwater resource, the annual volumes of the water right (entitlement on issue or estimation of the other statutory water rights), 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, allocations, abstractions, adjustments and forfeiture for the South East Queensland region during the 2010–11 year
Water rights (at 30 June 2011) Water allocation (2010–11) Water abstraction/use
(2010–11)
Forfeiture, adjustment
(2010–11)
Line item Volume (ML) Line item Volume (ML) Line item Volume (ML) Line item Volume (ML)

33.1 Other statutory groundwater rights

NA NA NA

18.7

NA NA

33.2 Groundwater access entitlement for direct extraction

NA NA NA

18.8

258 NA NA
NA NA NA

18.9

213 NA NA

33.3 Groundwater access entitlement for allocation extraction

9,340

22.1

9,340

18.11

1,113

14.1

8,227
Total 9,340   9,340   1,584   8,227

Notes:

  1. NA = not applicable.
  2. Dash (–) = no data available.
  3. More information about the items presented in Table 2 can be found in the linked line item notes.

Water market activity

Purpose of the note

This region note reports on water market activities that occurred during the 2010–11 reporting year in the SEQ region.

Content of the note

In the SEQ region, trade or lease of water entitlements or allocations does not occur between water supply schemes (WSSs) but can occur within them. Trade or lease of water entitlements or allocations between the SEQ region and outside the region does not occur. Trade or lease of groundwater entitlementsor allocations in the SEQ region does not occur.

Regulated water access entitlements (called 'water allocations' using Queensland terminology) are separate from land rights, and are tradeable and registered on the former Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management's (DERM) water allocation register. This function is now performed by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines and/or the Queensland Department of Energy and Water Supply. 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 access entitlements are detailed in the relevant resource operation plan. The rules for water allocation trade (called temporary trading or seasonal water assignment using Queensland terminology) are detailed in the Water Regulations 2002 (Qld), and the relevant resource operation plan and interim resource operation licence. 

Accordingly, surface water trade reported for the SEQ region during the 2010–11 year includes surface water entitlement trades, and leases and allocation trades within WSSs in the SEQ region.

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

  • trade of surface entitlements within the region
  • lease of surface entitlements within the region
  • trade of surface water allocations within the region.
Surface water trade

Table 3. Summarised information on surface water trade in the South East Queensland 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

1,284 18
Surface water entitlement lease    

36.1 Lease of surface water entitlement within region

0 0
Surface water allocation trade    

37.1 Surface water allocation trade within region

797 18
Total 2,081 36

Water restrictions

During the 2010–11 year permanent water conservation measures were in place in South East Queensland.

Water use

a. 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 SEQ region, environmental benefit is delivered through two water management scenarios:

  • Planned partly supplemented surface water: the dominant feature of environmental water management in this scenario is the ability to control or influence flow by operational releases from storage.
  • Planned unsupplemented surface water: in this scenario, water is managed for environmental benefit through controlling the water access regime.

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

  • Environmental water determinations, including ecological and environmental flow objectives are identified in water resource plans (WRPs). There are three water management areas and subsequently three WRPs that apply to the SEQ region (a map of the WRP areas can be seen in Table A2 in the Water management plans in Contextual information).
  • The environmental water commitment describes how these objectives are achieved through operating and environmental management rules and access rules for water allocations detailed in resource operations plans (ROPs).
  • Environmental outcomes, including whether environmental flow objectives were achieved and compliance with operating and environmental management rules, are reported on as part of the monitoring and reporting requirements in the ROPs.

Within each WRP area, water allocations are made for water supply schemes (WSS) (supplemented surface water) and for water in a river (unsupplemented surface water).

The ecological and environmental flow objectives detailed in the relevant WRP apply to both WSSs and unsupplemented water allocations; however, the operating and environmental management rules applicable to the WSSs are different from the access rules applicable to unsupplemented water allocations. Rules for WSSs prescribe operating levels for infrastructure such as storages and weirs, and require releases from storages to satisfy minimum flow conditions. Rules for unsupplemented water allocations prescribe rates of taking water and that the license holder must comply with any specific conditions of the licence.

For clarity of presentation environmental water determinations, commitments and outcomes are summarised/presented for each WRP area. The differences in operating and environmental management rules are indicated where appropriate.

Although the Moreton WRP also includes several groundwater management units, environmental objectives specific to the groundwater resource are not described in the WRP. Therefore, it is considered that there are no environmental water provisions for groundwater in this area.

Gold Coast Water Resource Plan area: planned partly supplemented and unsupplemented surface water

Environmental water determination

Schedule 5 of the Gold Coast WRP identifies ecological and environmental flow objectives for the catchments located within the Gold Coast WRP area.

Environmental flow objectives are identified for specific locations along the watercourses within the management area (referred to as 'nodes') and are described in Schedule 4 of the WRP. Schedule 5 of the WRP describes in detail the low flow, medium to high flow and seasonal flow objectives for each of these nodes. In addition to detailing the environmental flow objectives the Gold Coast WRP also sets out performance indicators for environmental flow objectives, described in Clause 12 of the WRP and summarised briefly in Table 4.

Table 4. Gold Coast Water Resource Plan performance indicators for environmental flow objectives

Low flow

Medium to high flow

Seasonal flow

50% daily flow

90% daily flow

Daily flow less than 1ML

Number of periods of no flow

Mean annual flow

1.5 year daily flow volume

5 year daily flow volume

20 year daily flow volume

Flow regime class

Annual proportional flow deviation


Ecological outcomes expected of the Gold Coast WRP are described in clause 11 of the plan. Briefly, they are to minimise changes to:

  • the flow regimes of rivers described as waters of high ecological value in the Environmental Protection (Water) Policy 1997
  • river–forming processes and changes to flow regimes in the Nerang River and Nerang Creek.
Environmental water commitment

The Gold Coast ROP describes the operating and environmental management rules and water access rules for the Nerang WSS (supplemented) and the lower Nerang Water Management Area (unsupplemented).

Nerang Water Supply Scheme: supplemented (regulated) system

The Gold Coast ROP sets out the rules the licence holder (Seqwater) must follow to achieve the outcomes of the Gold Coast WRP. The ROP requires Seqwater to make releases from water storages as described in Table 5 (see clauses 71 and 72A of the ROP).

Table 5. Gold Coast Resource Operation Plan storage release requirements

Storage

Storage volume/level

Storage Release (ML/day)

Advancetown Lake (Hinze Dam)

water level > 45.6 mAHD

7.25

water level > 45.6 mAHD and flow at Numinbah gauging station on the Nerang River is greater than 100ML/day

12

Little Nerang Dam

water level > 139.3 mAHD

3

mAHD = metres Australian height datum

Lower Nerang Water Management Area: unsupplemented

Water access rules that apply to water allocations in the Lower Nerang Water Management Area are detailed in clause 94 of the Gold Coast ROP and include that:

  • water is abstracted at a rate not exceeding the maximum rate on the allocation
  • the allocation holder complies with any special conditions on the allocation.
Environmenal water outcomes

In accordance with clauses 118A and 119 in the ROP, the resource operations licence (ROL) holder is responsible for reporting on streamflow levels, infrastructure levels and releases from infrastructure and ultimately their compliance with environmental objectives throughout the water year. Data on stream flow is available through the Queensland Government's water monitoring website.

Top–up environmental releases (ROL holder releases from infrastructure) occurred within the Gold Coast WRP area. Seqwater released 3,979 ML to supplement natural streamflow at various times during the 2010–11 year when the natural stream flow was not sufficient to meet the environmental flow requirements. More information on top–up environmental releases can be found in the Gold Coast Water Resource Account 2010–11.

Moreton Water Resource Plan area: planned partly supplemented and unsupplemented surface water

Environmental water determination

The Moreton WRP identifies ecological and environmental flow objectives for the catchments located within the Moreton WRP area as described in schedules 1, 4 and 5 of the WRP.

Environmental flow objectives are identified for specific locations along the watercourses within the management area (referred to as 'nodes') and are described in Schedule 6 of the WRP. Schedule 7 of the WRP describes in detail the low flow, medium to high flow and seasonal flow objectives for each of these nodes. In addition to detailing the environmental flow objectives the Moreton WRP also sets out performance indicators for environmental flow objectives, described in Clause 14 of the WRP and summarised in Table 6.

Table 6. Moreton Water Resource Plan performance indicators for environmental flow objectives

Low flow

Medium to high flow

Seasonal flow

50% daily flow

90% daily flow

Daily flow less than 1ML

Number of periods of no flow of at least 1 month but less than 3 months

Number of periods of no flow of at least 3 months but less than 6 months

Number of periods of no flow of at least 6 months

Mean annual flow

1.5 year daily flow volume

5 year daily flow volume

20 year daily flow volume

Flow regime class

Annual proportional flow deviation


Ecological outcomes expected of the Moreton WRP are described in clause 11 of the plan. Briefly, they are to:

  • minimise changes to flows that support river-forming processes and to the low flow regime in the Stanley River and tributaries
  • provide freshwater flows to the Boondall Wetlands.
Environmental water commitment

Water supply schemes: supplemented
The Moreton ROP describes the operating and environmental management rules for the three WSS operating under a ROL within the Moreton WRP area. Environmental water rules, in the form of storage releases, are in force for two WSS and are described in Table 7:
  • Central Brisbane River and Stanley River WSS (Seqwater) – see clause 75
  • Cressbrook Creek WSS (Toowoomba Regional Council) – see clauses 122 and 123.

Table 7. Moreton Resource Operation Plan storage release requirements

Water supply scheme

Storage

Storage release rate

Storage release conditions/criteria

Central Brisbane River and Stanley River Water Supply Scheme

Mount Crosby Weir

Minimum flow of 8.64 ML/day

When critical water sharing arrangements are not in force

Cressbrook Water Supply Scheme

Lake Cressbrook

Once triggered the release should satisfy the following conditions
- must be sufficient to maintain the water level at Cressbrook Creek weir > 98.75 mAHD
- must be sufficient to maintain the water level in Lower Cresbrook Creek weir > 77.47 mAHD
- cease if both Cressbrook Creek weir and Lower Cressbrook Creek weir are full

The following conditions need to be satisfied to trigger a release
- combined percentage of volume storage in Lake Cressbrook and Lake Perseverance is >35%
- Lake Cressbrook is not spilling
- water level in Cressbrook Creek weir is < 98.75 mAHD
- water level in Lower Cressbrook Creek weir is < 77.47 mAHD
- the flow in Cressbrook Creek at Rosentretters gauging station is less than 5 ML/day

Lake Perseverance

Minimum flow of 4.92 ML/day

When
- the water level in Lake Perseverance is equal to or greater than 431.6 mAHD
- an inflow into Lake Perseverance is equal to or greater than 5 ML/day

mAHD = metres Australian height datum

In addition to the Pine Valleys WSS, water supply schemes that currently operate under an interim resource operation licence also do not include any environmental provisions.

Moreton WRP area: unsupplemented
Water access rules that apply to water entitlements in the Moreton WRP area that are unsupplemented are detailed in clause 35 of the Moreton ROP and include that:
  • water is abstracted at a rate not exceeding the maximum rate on the allocation
  • the allocation holder complies with any special conditions on the allocation.
Environmenal water outcomes

In accordance with clauses 152 and 153 in the ROP, the resource operations licence holder is responsible for reporting on streamflow levels, infrastructure levels, releases from infrastructure, and, ultimately, their compliance with environmental objectives throughout the water year.

Top–up environmental releases (ROL holder releases from infrastructure) occurred within the Moreton WRP area. Seqwater released 5,560 ML to supplement natural stream flow at various times during the 2010–11 year when the natural stream flow was not sufficient to meet the environmental flow requirements. More information on top–up environmental releases can be found in the Moreton Water Resource Account 2010–11.


Logan Basin Water Resource Plan area: planned partly supplemented and unsupplemented surface water

Environmental water determination

The Logan Basin WRP identifies ecological and environmental flow objectives for the catchments located within the Logan Basin WRP area as described in Schedule 2 and 3 of the WRP.

Environmental flow objectives are identified for specific locations along the watercourses within the management area (referred to as 'nodes') and are described in Schedule 4 of the WRP. Schedule 5 of the WRP describes in detail the low flow, medium to high flow and seasonal flow objectives for each of these nodes. In addition to detailing the environmental flow objectives the Logan Basin WRP also sets out performance indicators for environmental flow objectives, described in clause 12 of the WRP and summarised in Table 8.

 

Table 8. Logan Basin Water Resource Plan performance indicators for environmental flow objectives

Low flow

Medium to high flow

Seasonal flow

50% daily flow

90% daily flow

Daily flow less than 1ML

Number of periods of no flow of at least 1 month but less than 3 months

Number of periods of no flow of at least 3 months but less than 6 months

Number of periods of no flow of at least 6 months

Mean annual flow

1.5 year daily flow volume

5 year daily flow volume

20 year daily flow volu

Flow regime class

Annual proportional flow deviation

 

Ecological outcomes expected of the Logan WRP are described in clause 11 of the plan. Briefly, they are to minimise changes to:

  • the flow regimes of rivers described in clause 11(b)
  • the flooding regime in the Carbrook wetlands
Environmental water commitment

Logan Water Supply Scheme: supplemented

The Logan Basin ROP describes the operating and environmental management rules for the Logan WSS (regulated/supplemented). The ROP requires Seqwater to make releases from water storages as described in the Table 9 (see clauses 87 and 88 of the ROP).

Table 9. Logan Basin Resource Operation Plan storage release requirements

Storage

Storage release rate

Storage release conditions/criteria

Lake Maroon

Equal to the volume of inflow

When inflow is equal to or less than 4 ML/day

4 ML/day

When inflow is > 4ML/day

Bromelton Weir

Equal to the volume of inflow

When inflow is equal to or less than 5 ML/day

5 ML/day

When inflow is > 5ML/day

Cedar Grove Weir

Equal to the volume of inflow

When inflow is equal to or less than 5 ML/day

5 ML/day

When inflow is > 5ML/day

Logan WRP area: unsupplemented

The area covered by unsupplemented water allocations in the Logan WRP area are described in attachment 2 of the ROP. Water sharing rules are detailed in Attachment 7 of the ROP and require that some licence holder:

  • ensure that water is abstracted at a rate not exceeding the maximum rate on the allocation
  • ensure that daily volumetric limits are not exceeded
Environmenal water outcomes

In accordance with clauses 137 and 138 in the ROP, the resource operations licence holder is responsible for reporting on streamflow levels, infrastructure levels, releases from infrastructure and, ultimately, their compliance with environmental objectives throughout the water year.

Top–up environmental releases (ROL holder releases from infrastructure) occurred within the Logan Basin WRP area. Seqwater released 5,134 ML to supplement natural stream flow at various times during the 2010–11 year when the natural stream flow was not sufficient to meet the environmental flow requirements. More information on top–up environmental releases can be found in the Logan Basin Water Resource Account 2010–11.

b. Social and cultural benefit

The Gold Coast, Logan Basin and Moreton WRPs require that water be managed for general and ecological purposes. This includes social and cultural benefits. 

There are no formal entitlements held for social or cultural purposes in the Gold Coast, Logan Basin or Moreton WRP areas. Surface water stores are managed through a rules-based system outlined in the WRPs and ROPs.

In Queensland, entitlements and allocations do not have intended use as an attribute, and all metered abstractions do not have entitlement priority or use as attributes. Water held for cultural, social or economic purposes can not be differentiated explicitly.