South East Queensland
Water accounting policies

a. Introduction

The information presented in the South East Queensland (SEQ) region report is based on agreements between the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM), Queensland Water Commission, SEQ Water Grid Manager, Seqwater and the Bureau of Meteorology.

The report has been prepared using an accrual basis of water accounting, with the exception of the physical water flow information. The water attribute being quantified is volume and the unit of account is megalitres (ML).

b. Recognition of water assets and water liabilities

Only water that is held or managed by the state licensing authorities, or resource operation licence holders or the urban utilities that operate within the region, and from which future benefit can be derived by stakeholders of the region, is defined as a water asset. Water liabilities are constituted by present commitments to supply water, the discharge of which is expected to result in a decrease of the region's water assets or an increase in another water commitment to supply water.

A water asset is recognised in the Statement of water assets and water liabilities providing:

  • its volume can be quantified in a way that is complete, neutral and free from material error, and
  • the derived benefit is probable.
A water liability is recognised in the Statement of water assets and water liabilities providing:
  • its volume can be quantified in a way that is complete, neutral and free from material error, and
  • the decrease of the region's water assets or increase in another water commitment to supply water is probable.

Water held in off-channel storages were not considered part of the region, regardless of size or connection to the system. This is because the attendant water right had already been exercised and the water abstracted from the source system.

c. Recognition of changes in water assets and water liabilities

The increases and decreases to the reported water assets and water liabilities consist of changes that can be quantified in a way that is complete, neutral and free from material error. These volumes are reported in the Statement of changes in water assets and water liabilities or the Statement of physical water flows.

Precipitation and evaporation are recognised only in relation to the surfaces of open storage volumes (line item 9.1 Precipitation on surface water and line item 17.1 Evaporation from surface water). They do not represent all precipitation, evaporation and evapotranspiration within the region (notably, these processes occurring to or from the landscape are not captured).

The portion of runoff that flows into the surface water store (storages and rivers) is quantified and recognised in the water accounting statements. This runoff includes precipitation captured in the catchment less evaporation and infiltration, and is recorded as line item 9.4 Runoff to surface water.

Allocations announced on regulated (supplemented) entitlements have been recognised as increases in water liabilities. Note that the definition of regulated or unregulated entitlements for the purpose of the 2011 Account (refer to Glossary) may be different to the meaning applied by the jurisdiction. Please refer to the Water rights, entitlements, allocations and tradenote for more information on the allocations.

d. Water assets and water liabilities that fail the recognition criteria

The volumes of several water assets and water liabilities identified in the South East Queensland (SEQ) region were not recognised in the water accounting statements but replaced by dashes (–) because they 'failed the recognition criteria' specified in the Exposure Draft of Australian Water Accounting Standards 1, as:

  • they could not be quantified in a way that is complete, neutral and free from material error, or
  • in the case of water assets, they were unlikely to provide a future benefit to the region or the region's stakeholders, or
  • in the case of water liabilities, they were unlikely to result in a decrease in the region's water assets or an increase in another water liability when the obligation is discharged.

The description of those water assets and water liabilities that failed the recognition criteria is given in the following line item notes:

e. Changes to water assets and water liabilities that fail the recognition criteria

The volumes of several changes to water assets and water liabilities identified in the South East Queensland (SEQ) region were not recognised in the water accounting statements but replaced by dashes (–) because they could not be quantified in a way that was complete, neutral and free from material error.

The description of those changes to water assets and water liabilities that failed the recognition criteria is given in the following line item notes:

f. Restatement of comparative information

Several comparative year volumes in the water accounting statements were restated from the 2010 Account to provide more useful information to the users. Restatements may be due to:

  • error committed in the 2010 Account, referred to as prior period error
  • change in the presentation of the water accounting statements, where line items were generally simplified since the 2010 Account
  • change in scope: for instance to include more of the region's area in the definition of a line item to present more complete information
  • improvement in quantification methodology
  • increase in the data available to quantify a line item.

In accordance with the Exposure Draft of Australian Water Accounting Standards 1 (the Standards), changes of presentation and scope of the line items require restatement of the comparative values in the water accounting statements. Changes of methodologies and data availability, although not required by the Standards, were restated in the water accounting statements if the change was considered material. In particular, any change affecting the allocation accounts was restated.

The notes attached to the line items of the water accounting statements give the detail on all the restatements made.

In the SEQ region, these line item changes can be broadly summarised as:

  • increased availability of surface water data
  • increased availability of urban water supply system data
  • changes in methodology used to model/estimate inflows and outflows to surface water
  • inclusion of wastewater collection inflows and urban water use outflows from the urban water system
  • reclassification of estuarine discharges from surface water discharge to outside region discharges
  • correction of prior period errors identified by data quality improvement processes.

Reasons for restating comparative year volumes are provided in more detail in the following individual line items that have been restated:

Change in presentation of the water accounting statements

In the 2010 Account, internal transactions between various water assets and water liabilities of the region were reported in the water accounting statements. In the 2011 Account, these internal transactions are not reported in the water accounting statements for the following reasons:

  • they did not affect the region's total water assets and water liabilities
  • feedback was received that presenting these internal transactions in the water accounting statements was confusing, as the same water appeared in the water accounting statements as both a claim to water and an obligation to deliver water, and as both inflows and outflows in relation to the various water assets and water liabilities.

In the 2011 Account, these internal transactions are reported instead in the Resources and systems suite of notes: Surface water, Groundwater, Urban system.