Adelaide
33.1 Other statutory groundwater rights

Supporting information

This line item describes water rights where a water licence is not required to extract and use groundwater. 

Rights to extract and use groundwater where a water licence is not required are described in sections 124(4), 124(6), 128, 132 and 164N of the Natural Resource Management Act 2004 (South Australia), (the Act). Rights described in section 124 of the Act apply to the entire Adelaide region, whereas rights described in sections 128, 132 and 164N only apply to only apply to prescribed groundwater resources. These water rights do not represent an entitlement and do not receive a formal allocation. Therefore the value of the right cannot be quantified. The volume of groundwater extracted under other statutory rights (line item 18.7 Extraction – other statutory rights) could not be quantified either for the 2011–12 year due to the lack of a suitable quantification approach.

These water rights are described in more detail below.

Stock and domestic purposes

The groundwater right described by section 124(4) of the Act allows the occupier of the land to take water from a well on the land, and is for use by the occupier of the land for domestic purposes or for watering stock. 

The only exception to this is where a water allocation plan excludes the operation of section 124(4) and a licence is required for stock and domestic purposes. The Northern Adelaide Plains prescribed wells area is the only prescribed resource in the Adelaide region where the operation of section 124(4) is excluded and a licence is required for stock and domestic purposes.

Basic right

The groundwater right described by section 124(6) of the Act allows taking of water for the purposes of drinking or cooking within the Adelaide region.

Water resources not prescribed

The groundwater right described by section 124(1) of the Act allows a person who has lawful access to a well to take water from that well for any purpose in an area where that groundwater resource is not prescribed, subject to conditions of sections 124(3)(4)(6) and (6a).

Mining

Water taken in mining and quarrying operations in non-prescribed groundwater resources do not need a licence to use this water. Where prescribed groundwater resources are used for mining or quarrying purposes a water licence or another authorisation is required.

Section 128

Section 128 of the Act allows certain uses of water by notice of the Minister published in the South Australian Government Gazette.

Section 132

Section 132 of the Act allows the Minister to prohibit or restrict the taking of water from prescribed or non-prescribed groundwater resources by notice published in the South Australian Government Gazette. A notice under section 132 is current for a period of up to two years. Further notices can follow. A notice under section 132 is considered to be a short-term management instrument that, in most cases, precedes longer- term management options such as a water allocation plan.

Section 164N

Section 164N of the Act allows an existing user, following declaration of the water resources as prescribed and subject to a notice of restriction or prohibition under section 132, to continue to use water without a water management authorisation for a set period of time. Existing users are entitled to receive an authorisation to abstract water prior to new users being able to access water. The process of issuing authorisations under section 164N is undertaken in parallel to the development of a water allocation plan. 

Groundwater rights described by sections 128 and 132 may or may not remain in place following the adoption of a water allocation plan as they are legally independent of a water allocation plan but can sometimes be used in conjunction with a water allocation plan to achieve specific purposes. In the Adelaide region these groundwater rights existed in the following areas where no water allocation plan existed during the 2011–12 year:

  • Western Mount Lofty Ranges Prescribed Water Resources Area (water allocation plan in draft during the 2011–12 year)
  • Central Adelaide PWA (no water allocation plan during the 2011–12 year)
  • Kangaroo Flat portion of the Northern Adelaide Plains PWA (water allocation plan in place since December 2000).

Licences were issued for the first time during the 2011–12 year on Dry Creek PWA for industrial salt production, replacing the previous notice of prohibition.