Adelaide
Water access and use

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 region's water resources and the associated allocation announcements, diversions and forfeitures. Information about restrictions to water access rights is also included in this note.

The 2012 Account acknowledges the varying jurisdictional legislative water resource management frameworks related to Australian rights to water that support water resource management in Australia. These water resource management frameworks vary greatly between jurisdictions, sometimes making comparisons difficult. To facilitate meaningful comparison between the water accounting reports included in the 2012 Account, 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, water rights for the Adelaide region for the 2011–12 year have been classified as disclosed in section b 'Surface water rights' and section c 'Groundwater rights'.

b. Surface water rights

In the National Water Account, the term surface water has a different meaning to that used by the South Australian legislation.

To provide national consistency across multiple jurisdictions, the 2012 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 South Australia's Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (the Act) 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 2012 Account definition, surface water rights consist in water rights associated with diverting water from a watercourse (river/stream/channel).

In the Adelaide region surface water rights that create a water liability include surface water rights for the Barossa Prescribed Water Resources Area (PWRA) and Little Para River Prescribed Watercourse (PWC) where licences are on issue. They are reported at line item 32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions. All other surface water diversions in the Adelaide region occur under authorisations provided in the Act and do not create a water liability. They 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.

Table 1 summarises the surface water rights for the Adelaide region, including the volumes of the water licences on issue, surface water allocations, abstractions, forfeitures and adjustments during the 2011–12 year.

 

Table 1. Summarised information on surface water rights for the Adelaide region.
Water rights (at 30 June 2012)

Water allocation (2011-12)

Water abstraction/use (2011-12)

Forfeiture– adjustment (2011-12)

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

n/a

  17.6 2,230

n/a

 

 n/a

n/a

 

17.8

101,099

n/a

 
32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions

3,412

21.1

3,412

17.11

1,116

13.1

1,919

Total

 2,759

 

3,412

 

104,445

 

1,919

Note that water abstraction/use (line item '17.8') shown in italics in Table 1 relates to the urban water system. This line item does not appear in the water accounting statements because it is a transaction that occurred within the region. This transaction did not impact the region's total water assets and water liabilities.

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

c. Groundwater rights

In the Adelaide region groundwater water rights that create a water liability include water licences that permit groundwater extraction in the following water management areas:

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

In the Adelaide region the allocation of managed aquifer recharge credits also creates a water liability in the McLaren Vale PWA and the Barossa PWRA (see the Water allocations section in the 'Contextual information'). For clarity of presentation, where possible the distinction between groundwater allocations and managed aquifer recharge credits is shown.

The groundwater water rights that create a water liability are reported at line item 33.3 Groundwater access entitlement for allocated extractions.

All other groundwater extractions in the Adelaide region occur under authorisations provided in the Act and do not create a water liability. They are reported at line item 33.1 Other statutory groundwater rights.

Table 2 summarises the groundwater water rights for the Adelaide region, including the volumes of the water licences on issue, groundwater allocations, abstractions, forfeitures and adjustments during the 2011–12 year.

More information about the items presented in Table 2 is provided in the linked line item notes.

Table 2  Summarised information on groundwater rights, allocations, abstractions, adjustments and forfeitures for the Adelaide region during the 2011–12 year

Water rights (at 30 June 2012)

Water allocation (2011–12)

Water abstraction/use (2011–12)

Forfeiture, adjustment (2011–12)

Reporting line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

33.1 Other statutory groundwater rights

n/a

n/a

n/a

18.7

­–

n/a

n/a

33.3 Groundwater access entitlement for allocated extractions

Native groundwater

42,718

22.1

42,718

18.11

17,379

14.1

24,851

Recharged groundwater

n/a

22.1

1,205

Total

42,718

 

43,923

 

17,379

 

24,851

d. Landscape water rights

The 2012 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 state surface water is water flowing over land, including water in a dam or reservoir and excepting water in a watercourse.

Following the National Water Account 2012 definition, water rights associated with harvesting runoff (i.e. water flowing across the surface) into off-channel water stores (farm dams) are reported as landscape water rights.

Landscape water rights within the Adelaide region are managed under a Notice of Prohibition. Abstractions from off-channel water stores during the 2011–12 year are reported under line item 31.3 Off-channel water abstraction.  

Water market activity

This region note reports on water market activities that occurred during the 2011–12 year in the Adelaide region.

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 if they are managed under a water allocation plan.

Accordingly, surface water trade reported for the Adelaide region during the 2011–12 year includes trades within the Barossa PWRA only.

Similarly, groundwater trade reported for the Adelaide region during the 2011–12 year includes trade within the following groundwater resource areas:

  • McLaren Vale PWA
  • Northern Adelaide Plains PWA
  • Barossa PWRA.

The following information on water trades within the Adelaide region is reported in this note:

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

Trade of River Murray water access rights can also occur between water users in the Adelaide region and users outside the region. For the 2011–12 year the following types of trade into or out of the Adelaide region are reported:

  • approved trade of surface water allocation.
 
Table 4  Summarised information on surface water entitlement trade and lease in the Adelaide region during the 2011–12 year

Line item

Volume (ML)

No. of trades

Surface water entitlement trade

 

 

35.1 Trade of surface water entitlement within region

0

0

Total
0
0

 

Table 5  Summarised information on groundwater entitlement trade in the Adelaide region during the 2011–12 year

Line item

Volume (ML)

No. of trades

Groundwater entitlement trade

 

 

38.1 Trade of groundwater entitlement within region

6,392

89

Groundwater entitlement lease

 

 

39.1 Lease of groundwater entitlement within region

583

34

Groundwater allocation trade

 

 

40.1 Groundwater allocation trade within region

267

14

Total

7,242

137

Water use

Economic, social and cultural benefit

Surface water and groundwater are used for economic purposes in the Adelaide region including urban water supply as well as private water supply for stock, rural domestic, irrigation, commercial and industrial purposes. For a summary of the water volumes allocated for various economic purposes within the region refer to line items 32.1, 32.3 and 33.3.

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 Native Title Act 1983 (Cwth)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 PWA. There are also a small number of water licences for recreational use in the Little Para PWC and the Barossa 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 situation, 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 PWRA: 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 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: p. 5, 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 (pp. 12–13: Table 4, Table 5 and Table 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 (pp. 49–50) of the Barossa PWRA WAP.

Environmental water outcomes

Although the Barossa PWRA WAP describes target streamflows 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 flows are provided for by SA Water through operations (spills) and releases from storages on a voluntary basis.

SA Water, the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management (NRM) Board and the South Australian Department of Water (Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources as of 1 July 2013) are conducting a two year environmental flows trial on the Onkaparinga, Torrens and South Para rivers. The result of the trial that will finish on 30 June 2013 will inform the environmental water storage release rules attached to the water licence that will be granted to SA Water under the future Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA.

Environmental outcomes

No information was available on the water released under the trial program into the Onkaparinga, Torrens and South Para rivers during the 2011–12 year.