Murray–Darling Basin
Water access and use

Water rights, entitlements, allocations and restrictions

Introduction

This note provides information about the water access rights granted by jurisdictions to the users of the Murray–Darling Basin (MDB) region's water resources and the associated allocation announcements, diversions, adjustments and forfeitures. Information about restrictions to water access rights is available through links provided to relevant line items in this note.

High-level information on legislative, administrative and governing arrangements of surface water rights in the MDB region is available under Water entitlements in 'Water rights' in the 'Contextual information'.

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 but in the Surface water and Groundwater notes, depending on which water resource or system they affect.

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. The jurisdictional 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 2012 Account, the Bureau of Meteorology (the Bureau) has developed and applied an accounting concept to classify and report water rights within a water-asset/water-liability framework.

According to that framework, surface water rights are categorised broadly into:

Groundwater rights are categorised broadly into:

 

Surface water rights

Summarised information on surface water rights, allocation, abstraction, adjustments and forfeiture of allocated water is presented in tables 1–3 for the 2011–12 year for the region. Allocation announcement, allocation diversion, adjustments, forfeiture and carry-over are all linked together. Tables 1–3 do not include carry-over information, which is available in line items 5.1 Surface water allocation remaining and 5.2 Surface water allocation remaining – urban water system. Table 4 provides a breakdown of surface water rights for all categories relevant to the region on water resource plan (WRP) area basis.

Unregulated (called unsupplemented in Queensland) entitlements have been categorised under line item 32.2 Surface water access entitlement for non-allocated diversions. Regulated (called supplemented in Queensland) entitlements have been categorised under line item 32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions. See the National Water Account Glossary for definitions of regulated, unregulated, entitlements or other terms used in this note.

The following jurisdiction-specific characteristics apply to the information presented in Table 1:

  • In Queensland: entitlement giving access to unregulated (unsupplemented) flows may report either the volumetric limit (the maximum volume of water that can be abstracted over a given period), or the nominal volume  (for water allocations with flow conditions, the nominal volume approximates the long-term annual average volume of accessible water for the entitlement).
  • In Queensland: entitlement giving access to regulated (supplemented) flows may report the nominal volume, against which allocations are announced.
  • In New South Wales: entitlements giving access to unregulated flows may report the entitled volume, which specifies an upper limit to the volume of water that can be abstracted over a given period; in case the entitlement exists within a water sharing plan (commenced or in draft), as defined under the Water Act 2000 (the Water Act), that period is 12 months, and in case the entitlement exists within an area that is still under the Water Act, and consequently has no water sharing plan, that period can be 12 months or several years. The actual duration of the period is unspecified in the table, as the data source used was the water audit monitoring (WAM) report, which did not contain this information.
  • In New South Wales: entitlement giving access to regulated flows may report the entitled volume, against which allocations are announced.
  • In Victoria: entitlements giving access to unregulated flows may report the entitled volume, which specifies an upper limit to the volume of water that can be abstracted over a 12-month period.
  • In Victoria: entitlement giving access to regulated flows may report the entitled volume, against which allocations are announced.
  • In South Australia: all entitlements have been classified as giving access to regulated flow and may report the entitled volume, against which allocations are announced.

Details of the information presented in the following tables and information on water restrictions can be accessed through the links provided.

 

Table 1  Summarised information on surface water rights, allocations, abstractions, adjustment and forfeiture during the 2011–12 year for the Northern Basin of the MDB region
Water rights (at 30 June 2012)

Water allocation (the 2011–12 year)

Water abstraction/use (the 2011–12 year)

Forfeiture, adjustment (the 2011–12 year)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

32.1 Other statutory surface water rights

38,066

n/a

n/a

17.6

38,066

n/a

n/a

32.2 Surface water access entitlement for non-allocated diversions

3,781,010

n/a

n/a

17.7

1,090,894

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

17.8

3,567

n/a

n/a

32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions (non-urban)

1,963,236

21.1

1,599,474

17.11

685,467

13.1

165,143

32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions (urban)

42,487

21.2

42,499

17.12

12,478

13.2

30,021

Total

5,824,799

Total

1,641,973

Total

1,830,472

Total

195,164

 

 

Table 2  Summarised information on surface water rights, allocations, abstractions, adjustment and forfeiture during the 2011–12 year for the Southern Basin of the MDB region
Water rights (at 30 June 2012)

Water allocation (the 2011–12 year)

Water abstraction/use (the 2011–12 year)

Forfeiture, adjustment (the 2011–12 year)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

32.1 Other statutory surface water rights

30,523

n/a

n/a

17.6

30,523

n/a

n/a

32.2 Surface water access entitlement for non-allocated diversions

1,067,503

n/a

n/a

17.7

523,155

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

17.8

6,294

n/a

n/a

32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions (non-urban)

9,926,353

21.1

7,412,187

17.11

5,930,626

13.1

2,010,884

32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions (urban)

555,816

21.2

539,521

17.12

283,824

13.2

255,722

Total

11,580,195

Total

7,951,708

Total

6,774,422

Total

2,266,606

 

Table 3  Summarised information on surface water rights, allocations, abstractions, adjustment and forfeiture during the 2011–12 year for the whole MDB region
Water rights (at 30 June 2012)

Water allocation (the 2011–12 year)

Water abstraction/use (the 2011–12 year)

Forfeiture, adjustment (the 2011–12 year)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

Account line item

Volume (ML)

32.1 Other statutory surface water rights

68,589

n/a

n/a

17.6

68,589

n/a

n/a

32.2 Surface water access entitlement for non-allocated diversions

4,848,513

n/a

n/a

17.7

1,614,049

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

17.8

9,861

n/a

n/a

32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions (non-urban)

11,889,589

21.1

9,011,661

17.11

6,616,093

13.1

2,176,027

32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions (urban)

598,303

21.2

582,020

17.12

296,302

13.2

285,743

Total

17,404,994

Total

9,593,681

Total

8,604,894

Total

2,461,770

 

Table 4  Surface water entitlements as at 30 June 2012 (basic rights and unregulated flows are estimates)
WRP area Jurisdiction Basic rights (ML) Entitlements for non-allocated diversion1 Entitlements for allocated diversion2 Total (ML)
Unregulated (ML)  Supplementary (ML) Non-urban (ML) Urban (ML)
SW19 Warrego Paroo–Nebine  Qld

116,399

0

2,612

0

119,011

SW18 Condamine–Balonne  Qld

2,241,243

0

114,981

0

2,356,224

SW17 Moonie  Qld

76,480

0

0

0

76,480

SW16 Queensland Border Rivers  Qld

400,452

0

103,518

0

503,970

SW15 NSW Border Rivers  NSW

10,752

32,421

120,001

265,740

620

429,534

SW11 Barwon–Darling Watercourse  NSW

825

181,102

0

0

0

181,927

SW12 NSW Intersecting Streams  NSW

2,456

32,764

0

0

0

35,220

SW14 Gwydir  NSW

9,555

45,356

177,347

527,287

3,836

763,381

SW13 Namoi  NSW

6,071

122,988

115,469

293,621

19,186

557,335

SW10 Macquarie–Castlereagh  NSW

8,407

69,090

49,899

655,477

18,845

801,718

Sub-total Northern Basin

38,066

3,318,295

462,716

1,963,236

42,487

5,824,799

SW9 Lachlan  NSW

10,697

26,723

0

690,184

15,545

743,149

SW8 Murrumbidgee  NSW

10,605

62,594

198,780

2,699,516

43,585

3,015,079

SW7 NSW Murray and Lower Darling  NSW

9,221

50,833

502,368

2,296,451

46,827

2,905,700

SW3 Northern Victoria  Vic.

137,716

0

1,804,539

100,765

2,043,020

SW2 Victorian Murray  Vic.

83,029

0

1,720,163

51,784

1,854,976

SW4 Wimmera–Malee  Vic.

0

0

72,520

47,310

119,830

SW6 Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges  SA

0

0

0

0

0

SW5 South Australian Murray SA

0

0

642,981

180,000

822,981

SW1 ACT  ACT

5,460

0

0

70,000

75,460

Sub-total Southern Basin

30,523

366,355

701,148

9,926,353

555,816

11,580,195

Total for the region

68,589

3,684,650

1,163,863

11,889,589

598,303

17,404,994

 Note

– = Data not available

Note: entitlements with different reliabilities have been added to form the values in the Total column.

1 Water rights that may not create a water liability (includes basic rights and entitlements associated with unregulated flows and New South Wales supplementary licences)

2 Water rights that may create a water liability (includes entitlements associated with allocation diversion)

 

Groundwater rights

Summarised information on groundwater rights, allocation, abstraction, adjustments and forfeiture of allocated water is presented in tables 5–7 for the 2011–12 year for the region. Allocation announcement, allocation abstraction and use, adjustments, forfeiture and carry-over are all linked together. Tables 5–7 do not include carry-over information, which is available in line items 6.1 Groundwater allocation remaining and 6.2 Groundwater allocation remaining – urban water system.

In the tables, water right volumes for non-urban, urban and supplementary groundwater access entitlements are included under 33.3 'Groundwater access entitlement for allocated extractions'. No information is provided in the tables under line item 33.2 'Groundwater access entitlement for non-alloacted extractions' (entitlement or other arrangement that may not produce a groundwater liability).  This is because all available entitlement information was provided under line item 33.3 assuming entitled volume is a liability even there was no formal allocation announcement.

Table 8 provides a breakdown of groundwater rights for all categories relevant to the region on Groundwater resource plan area basis.

 

Table 5  Summarised information on groundwater rights, allocations, abstractions, adjustment and forfeiture during the 2011–12 year for the Northern Basin of the MDB region
Water rights (at 30 June 2012)

Water allocation (the 2011–12 year)

Water abstraction/use (the 2011–12 year)

Forfeiture, adjustment (the 2011–12 year)

Account 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

48,948

n/a

n/a

18.7

48,948

n/a

n/a

33.3 Groundwater access entitlement for allocation extraction

497,524

22.1

634,486

18.11

248,541

14.1

385,945

22.2

19,107

18.12

7,233

14.2

11,874

Total

546,472

Total

653,593

Total

304,722

Total

397,819

 

 

Table 6  Summarised information on groundwater rights, allocations, abstractions, adjustment and forfeiture during the 2011–12 year for the Southern Basin of the MDB region
Water rights (at 30 June 2012)

Water allocation (the 2011–12 year)

Water abstraction/use (the 2011–12 year)

Forfeiture, adjustment (the 2011–12 year)

Account 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

145,228

n/a

n/a

18.7

145,228

n/a

n/a

33.3 Groundwater access entitlement for allocation extraction

1,334,117

22.1

1,051,042

18.11

358,429

14.1

692,254

22.2

6,886

18.12

1,681

14.2

5,205

Total

1,479,344

Total

1,057,928

Total

505,338

Total

697,459

 

 

Table 7  Summarised information on groundwater rights, allocations, abstractions, adjustment and forfeiture during the 2011–12 year for the whole MDB region
Water rights (at 30 June 2012)

Water allocation (the 2011–12 year)

Water abstraction/use (the 2011–12 year)

Forfeiture, adjustment (the 2011–12 year)

Account 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

194,176

n/a

n/a

18.7

194,176

n/a

n/a

33.3 Groundwater access entitlement for allocation extraction

1,831,641

22.1

1,685,528

18.11

606,970

14.1

1,078,199

22.2

25,993

18.12

8,914

14.2

17,079

Total

2,025,816

Total

1,711,521

Total

810,060

Total

1,095,278

 

  
Table 8  Approximate groundwater water entitlements as at 30 June 2012 for the groundwater resource plan areas selected for the 2012 Account
Groundwater resource plan area

Jurisdiction

Other statutory groundwater rights1 (ML)

Entitlements2 

Total (ML)

Non-urban (ML)

Urban (ML)

Supplementary3 (ML)

GW19 New South Wales Border Rivers Alluvium NSW 380 17435 45 0 17,860
GW18 New England Fractured Rock and Northern Basalts NSW 17,961 11511 562 0 30,034
GW17 Eastern Porous Rock NSW 6,243 19028 420 0 25,691
GW 16 Gwydir Alluvium NSW

700

28,858

3,572

13,930

47,060

GW 15 Namoi Alluvium NSW

10,428

253,364

11,421

58,657

333,870

GW14 New South Wales Alluvium above GAB NSW

3,268

5,694

0

0

8,962

GW 13 New South Wales Sediments above GAB1 NSW

0

GW 12 Macquarie–Castlereagh Alluvium NSW

1,814

66,041

3,090

2,396

73,341

GW 11 Lachlan and South Western Fractured Rock NSW

8,154

1,500

0

0

9,654

Sub-total Northern Basin

48,948

403,431

19,110

74,983

546,472

GW 11 Lachlan and South Western Fractured Rock NSW

79,524

91,238

2,612

0

173,374

GW7 Darling Alluvium  NSW

730

876

0

0

1,606

GW 10 Lachlan Alluvium NSW

4,000

105,678

2,924

21,238

133,840

GW 9 Murrumbidgee Alluvium NSW

4,000

273,305

2,230

41,196

320,731

GW 8 Murray Alluvium NSW

2,915

187,003

270

47,782

237,970

GW6 Western Porous Rock NSW

26,747

32,324

0

0

59,071

GW 2 Goulburn–Murray Vic.

23,348

454,942

n/a

n/a

478,290

GW 3 Wimmera–Mallee (groundwater) Vic.

1,994

45,122

n/a

n/a

47,116

GW 5 Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges SA

270

11,156

n/a

n/a

11,426

GW 4 South Australian Murray SA

1,700

14,221

0

n/a

15,921

Sub-total Southern Basin

145,228

1,215,865

8,036

110,216

1,479,344

Total for the region

194,176

1,619,296

27,146

185,199

2,025,816

Notes

1 Other statutory groundwater rights are an estimate of the rights existing at the commencement of the management plans in New South Wales. Volumes from other states were not available for this table. The rights enable individuals to abstract water for stock and domestic purposes where licences are not normally formally issued for these rights.

2 Licensed entitlements include all licences issued under the respective management plans, excluding New South Wales supplementary licenses. Volumes from Australian Capital Territory or Queensland were not available for this table.

3 Supplementary licenses are a category of licence within New South Wales only, where it has already been established that the total volume being extracted from the aquifer needs to be reduced. These licenses have reducing allocations to zero over the life of the management plans.

 

Combined surface water and groundwater rights

For the 2011–12 year, combined surface water and groundwater access entitlements were available in the Australian Capital Territory within the Southern Basin of the MDB region. There were 40 active entitlements with a total volume of 2,511 ML that may abstract water from either groundwater or surface water in the Australian Capital Territory.

 

Landscape water rights

Runoff harvesting entitlements are the water rights under which landscape runoff is harvested into Off-channel water storages (line item 27.1 Off-channel water storages). Runoff harvesting entitlement volumes were not available for inclusion in the water account. Information on volume of water diverted under these entitlements during the 2011–12 year is available in line item 30.3 Runoff harvesting into off-channel water store and in the Off-channel storages note.

Following is an explanation of the different terms used within the MDB and how each jurisdiction manages runoff that may be harvested from the land, thus preventing it from reaching a watercourse.

Queensland

Queensland uses the term overland flow. Overland flow is water that runs across the land after rainfall, either before it enters a watercourse, after it leaves a watercourse as floodwater, or after it rises to the surface naturally from underground. Most water in rivers and underground reserves originates as overland flow. If too much water is intercepted before it reaches a watercourse, or if too much floodwater is intercepted before it returns to a watercourse, there can be serious implications for:

  • towns, industries and farms that rely on watercourses for water supplies
  • landholders who rely on beneficial flooding
  • the maintenance of healthy waterways
  • groundwater recharge
  • ecosystems relying on periodic inundation.

A person may harvest overland flow for any purpose unless there is a moratorium notice, a water resource plan or wild river declaration that limits or alters the water that may be harvested. Rules in water resource plans established under the Water Act 2000 (Qld)  regulate the building of works that harvest overland flow either actively or passively.

Works that harvest overland flow actively include:

  • pumps, storages, sumps, drains and pipes used to harvest and store it
  • any storage connected to another one used to harvest it, and the connecting infrastructure
  • structures used to hold it for ponded pastures.

Works that harvest overland flow passively include:

  • levees or diversion banks used to direct it into dams, or to slow it down to increase the amount harvested. This does not include works used in soil conservation.

Water resource plans do not regulate works that interfere with, but were not built specifically to harvest overland flow. However, local planning laws may still regulate the building of these structures which include:

  • contour banks
  • fences
  • roads.

Where the construction of overland flow works is regulated, the development may be either assessable or self-assessable development under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (Qld). Codes for assessable and self–assessable development include information on constructing works for harvesting overland flow. Currently, the harvesting of overland flow is regulated in the following water resource plan areas:

  • Border Rivers
  • Condamine and Balonne
  • Moonie
  • Warrego, Paroo and Nebine.

In all of these areas, it is required to have:

  • an authorisation to harvest overland flow
  • a development permit under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 for most works for harvesting overland flow.

New South Wales

Landholders in most New South Wales rural areas are allowed to collect a proportion of the rainfall runoff on their property and store it in one or more dams up to a certain size. This is known as a harvestable right. Harvestable right water is generally intended for essential stock and household use but can be used for any purpose.

All rural landholders in New South Wales are able to maintain or build farm dams. There are several categories of farm dams that do not require a licence:

  • harvestable right dams
  • dams built before 1999 used only for stock and domestic purposes
  • dams up to one mega litre on small properties.

In addition to rainfall runoff harvesting, New South Wales has addressed floodplain harvesting. Floodplain harvesting is the collection, abstraction or impoundment of water flowing across floodplains.

Harvesting of on-farm rainfall runoff is not included within the definition of floodplain harvesting. However, because rainfall runoff can be harvested by the same infrastructure as floodplain abstractions, it is important to specify the regulatory distinction between the two types of water abstraction. All rainfall runoff harvesting must be in accordance with the harvestable rights order by which the area is constituted as provided for under Chapter 3, Part 1, Division 2 of the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW). Within most of New South Wales, the allowable maximum harvestable right is currently 10% of average annual runoff. The runoff is primarily a function of rainfall, evaporation, soil type, topography and vegetation cover. The allowable runoff harvesting volume is converted to a maximum harvestable right dam capacity, using a publicly available, web-based calculator. The allowable harvestable right volume of runoff will be assumed to have been abstracted and will be factored into the assessment of floodplain harvesting abstractions.

New South Wales Floodplain Harvesting Policy (NSW Office of Water 2013c) outlines how floodplain harvesting abstractions will be managed within long-term average annual abstraction limits under water sharing plans and the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council Cap where applicable. There will be no growth in overall abstractions on a valley-wide basis as a result of the implementation of this policy. All floodplain harvesting activities will require a water supply work approval and a floodplain harvesting water access licence issued under the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW).

Victoria

The Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy for Victoria discusses the impacts of interception activities. Interception activities are a risk to water availability because they capture rainfall before it becomes surface runoff or groundwater recharge. These activities include small catchment dams (for farms or domestic and stock use), changes in land use and the impact of forest regeneration due to bushfires. These activities have not historically required a water entitlement (except for small catchment dams for irrigation or commercial purposes, which have required a licence since 2002); however, they can reduce the amount of water available to downstream entitlement holders and the environment.

Unlike dams for commercial and irrigation use, dams for domestic and stock use are not licensed and therefore can continue to be built without scrutiny of their impact on downstream users and the environment. In Victoria, rights to water for domestic and stock use (private rights) are specified in Section 8 of the Water Act 1989 (Vic).  Under this section, people are able to access water without a formal entitlement and free of charge under specific arrangements in the Water Act 1989.  This includes farm dams for domestic and stock purposes.

Based on current estimates, unlicensed dams capture six per cent of the available runoff generated by landscape in northern Victoria. At a local level, the impact of unlicensed dams can be even greater.

Several actions have been highlighted in the Northern Region sustainable water strategy to manage the impacts of stock and domestic use. Some key actions will be:

  • requiring the registration of all new or altered domestic and stock dams within rural residential areas and promoting sustainable use in accordance with guidelines for reasonable domestic and stock use;
  • monitoring growth in domestic and stock use
  • clarifying the need to obtain a Section 51 licence for harvesting water for uses other than domestic and stock purposes.

South Australia

The South Australia Government's Water for Good strategy identifies a number of projects to increase the volume of water collected from stormwater harvesting, both within Adelaide and in rural South Australia. These projects involve storing and treating stormwater in wetlands and aquifers to improve water quality.  Only a small number of such projects are within the South Australian MDB region.

Australian Capital Territory

The Australian Capital Territory government's Think Water Act Water strategy (Australian Capital Territory Government 2011b) for sustainable water resource management in the Australian Capital Territory, outlines actions the Australian Capital Territory government plans to improve management of stormwater runoff, including adopting water sensitive urban design principles. 

Water restrictions

Table 9 provides information on water restrictions applicable during the 2011–12 year for different entitlement classes within the region.

 

Table 9  Details of water restrictions as applicable in the 2011–12 year
Sustainable diversion limit area  

Entitlement class

State/Territory

Details of water restriction

Code

Name

SS20 Macquarie–Castlereagh Domestic and stock, high security, general security, high security – urban and local water utility NSW Water Sharing Plan for the Macquarie and Cudgegong Regulated Rivers Water Source 2003 remained suspended at the commencement of the 2011–12 year. The suspension was lifted on 16 September 2011.
SS16 Lachlan Domestic and stock, high security, general security and local water utility NSW Water Sharing Plan for the Lachlan Regulated River Water Source 2003 remained suspended at the commencement of the 2011–12 year. The suspension was lifted on 16 September 2011.
SS15 Murrumbidgee NSW Domestic and stock, high security, general security, high security – urban and local water utility NSW Water Sharing Plan for the Murrumbidgee Regulated River Water Source remained suspended at the commencement of the 2011–12 year. The suspension was lifted on 16 September 2011. 
Restrictions for urban water supply related to urban entitlements were at the discretion of local urban councils. Details of implemented restrictions were not available at the data collection stage for the 2012 Account.
SS14 NSW Murray Domestic and stock, high security, general security, high security – urban and local water utility NSW Water Sharing Plan for the New South Wales Murray and Lower Darling Regulated Rivers Water Sources 2003 remained suspended at the commencement of the 2011–12 year. The suspension was lifted on 16 September 2011.
Restrictions for urban water supply related to urban entitlements were at the discretion of local urban councils. Details of implemented restrictions were not available at the data collection stage for the 2012 Account.
SS4 Ovens Urban bulk entitlements – regulated Vic. On 27 July 2011, Stage 4 water restrictions were removed for Bundalong.
Town supplies are restricted by the Victorian permanent water savings rules.
SS5 Broken Urban bulk entitlements – Broken Vic. Town supplies are restricted by the Victorian permanent water savings rules.
SS6 Goulburn Urban bulk entitlements: Goulburn 'channel', Goulburn to Coliban and  Goulburn 'river' Vic.
Town supplies are restricted by the Victorian permanent water savings rules.
SS7 Campaspe  Urban and rural bulk entitlements: Coliban, Campaspe 'channel'  and Campaspe regulated river Vic. Town supplies are restricted by the Victorian permanent water savings rules.
SS8 Loddon Urban bulk entitlements – Loddon Vic. Raywood and Sebastian were on Stage 3 water restrictions throughout 2011–12.
Town supplies are also restricted by the Victorian permanent water savings rules.
SS2 Victorian Murray

Urban bulk entitlements – regulated

Vic. During August 2011, Lower Murray Water introduced Stage 3 restrictions for Robinvale urban customers. These restrictions were removed in September 2011.
Town supplies are also restricted by the Victorian permanent water savings rules.
SS9 Wimmera–Mallee   High reliability water share   Vic. Redbank was on Stage 2 water restrictions throughout 2011–12.
Town supplies are also restricted by the Victorian permanent water savings rules.
SS11 SA Murray Class 2 – SA country towns and Class 6 – metropolitan Adelaide and associated country areas) SA Permanent water savings conservation measures came into effect from 1 December 2010.
SS1 ACT  ACTEW Water – reservoir extractions ACT Due to minimal inflows and low storage volumes, restrictions operated for this class of entitlement. Stage 2 water restrictions were lifted in the ACT on 1 November 2010 and have been replaced by permanent water conservation measures.

Information on limitations related to available water for New South Wales sustainable diversion limit areas is available in New South Wales Office of Water's Available water determinations 2011–12 (NSW Office of Water 2013b).

Information on limitations on allocations for high and low reliability water shares (non-urban use) in Victorian sustainable diversion limit areas in 2011–12 is available in Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries' Monthly water Reports – Archived Reports (Department of Environment and Primary Industries 2013a).

For the sustainable diversion limit areas not included in the above table, water restriction information is not available.

 

Water market activity

Purpose of the note

This note reports on water market activities that occurred in the Murray–Darling Basin (MDB) region during the 2011–12 year.

Content of the note

Only surface water trade is reported for the MDB Region during the 2011–12 year. Groundwater trade is not reported as there was limited information in relation to groundwater trade (at the data collection period for the 2012 Account) within the region during the 2011–12 year.

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

  • approved permanent trade of surface water entitlements
  • approved lease of surface water entitlements
  • approved trade of surface water allocations
  • impact of inter-valley trade on regions' water assets and liabilities.
Surface water trade

During the 2011–12 year, no water was traded into or out of the MDB region.

Table 10 summarises permanent and temporary surface water trade within the MDB region during the 2011–12 year.

 

Table 10  Summarised information on permanent and temporary surface water trade within the MDB region during the 2011–12 year
Line item

Volume (ML)

Northern Basin

Southern Basin

Whole region

Surface water entitlement trade
35.1 Trade of surface water entitlement within region

373,397

730,229

1,103,626

35.2 Trade of surface water entitlement into region

0

0

0

35.3 Trade of surface water entitlement out of region

0

0

0

Surface water entitlement lease
36.1 Lease of surface water entitlement within region

2,262

9,719

11,981

Surface water allocation and tagged trade
37.1 Surface water allocation trade within region – within and into sustainable diversion limit areas

351,939

3,752,415

4,104,354

37.1 Surface water allocation trade within region – within and out of sustainable diversion limit areas

351,939

3,752,415

4,104,354

37.2 Surface water allocation trade into region

0

0

0

37.3 Surface water allocation trade out of region

0

0

0

– = Data not available

The volumes provided in the above table were based on data available at the sources (see line items 35.1, 36.1 and 37.1 for data sources).

Surface water entitlement trade

Surface water entitlement trade for the MDB region was reported only under line item 35.1 Trade of surface water entitlement within region for the reporting year. This line item includes the volume of permanent entitlement sales within and between sustainable diversion limit (SDL) areas approved during the 2011–12 year. No permanent water trade occurred between two segments (the Northern Basin and the Southern Basin) defined on the MDB region or between the segments and outside the region.

Surface water entitlement lease

Information on surface water entitlement lease for the MDB region was reported under line item 36.1 Lease of surface water entitlement within region for the reporting year. Seasonal water flow associated with lease of surface water entitlements is included in allocation and tagged trade within the region (in line item 37.1 Surface water allocation trade within region).

Surface water allocation trade

Surface water allocation trade for the MDB region was reported under line item 37.1 Surface water allocation trade within region for the reporting year. This line item includes the volume of allocation trade within and into (from other SDL areas) SDL areas, and within and out of (to other SDL areas) SDL areas. Allocation trade volumes provided in this note include tagged trade and environmental water trades.

No allocation trade occurred between the segments and outside the region. Trade of consumptive water between the Southern Basin and the Northern Basin is prohibited.

The following table presents information on inter-state allocation trade during the 2011–12 year.

Table 11  Inter-state allocation trade during the 2011–12 year
Purchased from

Purchased to (SDL area)

Volume (ML)

Additional information

State

SDL area

State

SDL area

NSW NSW Border Rivers Qld Qld Border Rivers

26,112

 
Vic. Vic. Murray NSW Lower Darling

712

 
Vic. Vic. Murray NSW Murrumbidgee NSW

11,730

 
Vic. Goulburn NSW Murrumbidgee NSW

2,453

 
Vic. Vic. Murray NSW NSW Murray

41,718

 
Vic. Goulburn NSW NSW Murray

2,662

 
Vic. Campaspe NSW NSW Murray

800

 
Vic. Loddon NSW NSW Murray

150

 
SA SA Murray NSW Lower Darling

14,635

 
SA SA Murray NSW Murrumbidgee NSW

21,928

 
SA SA Murray NSW NSW Murray

39,952

23,500 ML environmental water trade
NSW Lower Darling Vic. Vic. Murray

241

 
NSW Murrumbidgee NSW Vic. Vic. Murray

726

 
NSW Murrumbidgee NSW Vic. Goulburn

100

 
NSW Murrumbidgee NSW Vic. Loddon

100

 
NSW NSW Murray Vic. Vic. Murray

7,471

3,500 ML environmental water trade
NSW NSW Murray Vic. Goulburn

250

 
NSW NSW Murray Vic. Campaspe

80

 
SA SA Murray Vic. Vic Murray

143,064

 
SA SA Murray Vic. Goulburn

3,745

 
SA SA Murray Vic. Campaspe

3,632

 
SA SA Murray Vic. Loddon

1,900

 
NSW Lower Darling SA SA Murray

15,000

 
NSW Murrumbidgee NSW SA SA Murray

95

 
NSW NSW Murray SA SA Murray

158,802

150,000 ML environmental water trade
Vic. Vic Murray SA SA Murray

331,268

 
Vic. Goulburn SA SA Murray

1,166

 
Vic. Campaspe SA SA Murray

230

 
Vic. Loddon SA SA Murray

100

 

Trading volumes include environmental trade volumes. Details of environmental trades were not available at the time of data collection for the 2012 Account (details for three such environmental trades are shown in the last column).

Inter-state allocation trade shown in the above table during the 2011-12 year resulted in net inward movement of water for Queensland and South Australia and net outward movement for New South Wales and Victoria as shown in the following table.

Table 12 Net inter-state allocation trade for the states within the region during 2011–12 year
From

To

Net allocation trade (ML)

New South Wales Queensland 26,112
New South Wales South Australia 97,382
Victoria New South Wales 51,257
Victoria South Australia 180,423
Impact of trade on the region's water assets and water liabilities

All water trades occurred within the boundaries of the MDB region and no water trade crossed the boundary between the northern and southern basins.

Nevertheless, water trades between different water resource planning areas of the MDB had a significant impact on the allocations announced, diverted, forfeited and carried-over. This is reflected in the water assets and liabilities of the water resource plan area. These transactions are not reported in this note; however, movement of water as a result of those transactions has impacted on diversions volumes (reported in line items 17.11 and 17.12 in the Water accounting statements). Any water availability imbalances associated with the transactions have been considered in line items 21.1 and 21.2.

 Impact of inter-valley trade on water assets and water liabilities

Water traded into or out of valleys within the MDB region impacts on the valleys' water assets and water liabilities in several ways including:

  • creation of claims and obligations between valleys
  • transfer of the obligation to deliver allocated water to the water users.

In the case of trade into a valley:

  • when the trade transaction is approved, there is the creation of a claim (non-physical water asset) by the destination valley of the trade (i.e. where the purchaser is registered), against the source valley (i.e. where the seller is registered)
  • delivery obligation is moved from the selling valley to buying valley
  • when water is physically transferred to the destination valley, it decreases its claim (non-physical water asset) against the source valley.

Creation of claims and obligations between valleys

In the case of trade out of a valley, the reverse occurs:

  • when the trade transaction is approved, there is the creation of an obligation (water liability) in the source valley of the trade towards the destination valley
  • when water is physically transferred out of the source valley, it decreases its obligation (water liability) towards the destination valley.

Note that in both cases the inter-valley transfer may occur in a subsequent water year to the year to when the trade was approved. The inter-valley transfer may be cancelled by back-trade or the inter-valley transfer account may spill which cancels the obligation to the destination valley. For instance, water traded to South Australia up to 31 March in a water year is delivered from September to April in that water year in the same pattern of delivery as the remaining South Australian monthly diversion entitlements from the month following when the trade occurred to the end of April. Water traded from 01 April – 30 June is adjusted for over the following September–April.

Transfer of the obligation to deliver water to the users

When water is traded from a source valley to a destination valley, the obligation (water liability) to deliver the allocated water to the user is transferred from the source to the destination valley. The newly created liability in the destination valley will be settled when the allocated water is diverted by the purchaser of the water trade.

Water use

a. Environmental water provision

Introduction

This note provides following details for the Murray–Darling Basin (MDB) region:

  • environmental water management instruments and strategies
  • the water management categorisations under which environmental benefits are provided. 

Information on legislative, administrative and governing arrangements of environmental water in the MDB region is available in Environmental water provisions in 'Administration' in the 'Contextual information'. It also includes information on organisations responsible for environmental water management in the jurisdictions.

In the MDB, environmental benefit is delivered through two broad management categorisations: planned environmental water and held environmental water.

Planned environmental water management is further categorised into:

  • Planned partly regulated (or supplemented) surface water — the dominant feature of environmental water management in this categorisation is the ability to control or influence flow by operational releases from storage.
  • Planned unregulated surface water — in this categorisation, water is managed for environmental benefit through controlling the water access regime.

Planned environmental water is water committed by a water resource plan (WRP) or legislation to achieve environmental outcomes. The Water management plans in 'Administration' in the 'Contextual information' includes links to jurisdictional water management plans that detail planned environmental water provisions within the MDB region.

Held environmental water is water available under a water right (entitlement or allocation) for the purpose of achieving environmental outcomes.

For each categorisation, 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 and given times 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 Environmental Water Provisions (EWP) and the environmental water commitments.
Environmental water management instruments and strategies within the MDB region

General environmental water management information applicable to the MDB region can be found in the National Water Commission's Australian Environmental Water Management Report 2010 (National Water Commission 2010).

Some key features of the environmental water regime within the MDB region are:

  • Each jurisdiction has legislative goals and mechanisms for managing surface water and groundwater systems. This includes managing environmental water delivery and use across the MDB region.
  • Within each jurisdiction, the water management plans that have been developed address requirements to provide water for the environment, by setting aside volumes that cannot be extracted from the system and through releasing volumes from a storage in a controlled manner to achieve a set of conditions downstream. The restrictions on extraction also apply to groundwater systems.
  • Not all areas of the MDB region have water management plans developed and approved.
  • In addition to water management plans, other programs have been introduced by governments to increase the volume of water that is provided for the environment. For example, the Australian Government has introduced a $3.1 billion program called Restoring the Balance in the Murray–Darling Basin. The water rights acquired by the Commonwealth under this program become part of the Commonwealth environmental water holdings. These holdings are managed by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH). More information about Commonwealth environmental water holdings can be obtained from the commonwealth environmental water annual report 2011–12 (Commonwealth Environmental Water 2013a) and the Commonwealth Environmental Water website.
  • Jurisdictions have also delivered significant water recovery programs over recent past, such as New South Wales RiverBank, Rivers Environmental Restoration Program and Wetland Recovery Program.
  • Entitlements are held for the purpose of watering the environment as a result of the above mentioned and other programs (e.g. environmental entitlements held by the Minister for Environment in New South Wales, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority for The Living Murray program.
  • All environmental entitlements held by the Victorian Minister for Environment were transferred to the Victorian Environmental Water Holder in Victoria with effect from 1 July 2011.

Queensland

The structure of the Queensland WRPs is primarily aimed at providing planned environmental water rather than using held environmental water.

There is no environmental water holder within Queensland. The Commonwealth government has acquired entitlements in Queensland for environmental benefit.

New South Wales

The Office of Water within the Department of Primary Industries is responsible for water licence and regulation, including oversight of planned environmental water. The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) within the Department of Environment, Climate Change, Energy and Water works collaboratively with many other partners to manage  environmental water in New South Wales, including delivery of allocations from held environmental water and utilising planned environmental water to deliver environmental benefits.

Australian Capital Territory

The Department of Environment, Climate Change Energy and Water (DECCEW) has developed Environmental Flow Guidelines 2006. The objectives set in the guidelines are met by releases from the storages, as planned partly regulated surface water management, rather than using held environmental water.

There is no environmental water holder within the Australian Capital Territory and the Commonwealth government has not purchased any entitlements for environmental benefit in the Australian Capital Territory.

Victoria

The Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) held entitlements that could be used for environmental benefit during the 2011–12 year. A mixture of planned environmental water, which is addressed in the bulk entitlements and other rules, and water entitlements are used to deliver environmental benefits.

 South Australia

The South Australian Minister for the River Murray holds River Murray entitlements that can be used for environmental purposes. In addition, the CEWH has purchased irrigation entitlements for the environment. A mixture of planned environmental water and held environmental water is delivered to improve the ecological health of the River Murray, including wetlands, floodplain and Lake Coorong. See the River Murray Water Allocation Plan for details (Government of South Australia 2009).

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority also holds entitlements in South Australia for environmental benefit.

Commonwealth environmental water programs

Information about Commonwealth environmental water management involving the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder can be found in the commonwealth environmental water annual report 2011–12 (Commonwealth Environmental Water 2013a). Information about environmental water management by the CEWH can be obtained from the Australian government's Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities environmental water management publications website.

The CEWH can trade Commonwealth environmental water and water holdings subject to conditions in the Water Act 2007 (Cwlth). Commonwealth environmental water holdings are published in the CEWH's annual report, and are updated each month on the Commonwealth environmental water holdings web site.

Information about environmental water delivery under the Living Murray Initiative can be obtained from the Murray–Darling Basin Authority's the Living Murray portfolio and delivery website.

Environmental water determination and commitment

Planned partly regulated (or supplemented) surface water

This type of environmental water delivery occurs in some river reaches in the MDB region through the active release of environmental entitlements from a storage at the direction of the respective environmental entitlement holder.

The water regime to attain at given locations on the rivers (environmental water determination) and the storage release rules (environmental water commitments) are specified in approved water sharing and management plans that are listed under Water management plans in 'Administration' in the 'Contextual information'.

Planned unregulated surface water

Environmental water determination for planned unregulated surface water categorisation is based on provisions made in approved water sharing and management plans. Water management plans in 'Administration' in the 'Contextual information' includes details of these plans within the MDB region.

Held environmental water

Entitlements listed in the following tables were available during the 2011–12 year (as recorded on 30 June 2012) as held environmental entitlements. The entitlements held by the CEWH and under the Living Murray Program are included in the tables. 

Entitlement volumes shown reflect only those that have been recorded as being legally held (or under the administrative operations of the environmental water manager). The entitlement volumes will be subject to change as water continues to be acquired under some programs. In particular, the volumes held by the CEWH will increase as more entitlements are acquired.

 

Table 13  Summary of entitlements held or owned by environmental managers in the MDB region as applicable in the 2011–12 year
WRP area

State

Total volume of entitlements (ML)

Name
SW19 Warrego–Paroo–Nebine Qld

21,970

SW18 Condamine–Balonne Qld

35,031

SW17 Moonie Qld

1,415

SW16 Qld Border Rivers Qld

11,610

SW15 NSW Border Rivers NSW

269

SW11 Barwon–Darling Watercourse NSW

22,275

SW12 NSW Intersecting Streams  NSW

8,106

SW14 Gwydir NSW

126,532

SW13 Namoi  NSW

6,203

SW10 Macquarie–Castlereagh NSW

149,763

Sub-total Northern Basin

383,174

SW9 Lachlan  NSW

137,527

SW8 Murrumbidgee  NSW

454,190

SW7 NSW Murray and Lower Darling NSW

802,136

SW3 Northern Victoria  Vic.

333457

SW2 Vic. Murray Vic.

396,257

SW4 Wimmera–Mallee  Vic.

41,560

SW5 SA Murray SA

160,350

Sub-total Southern Basin

2,325,477

Total

2,708,651

 

Table 14  Details of entitlements held / owned by environmental managers in the MDB region as applicable in the 2011–12 year
WRP area

Sustainable diversion limit (SDL) area

State

Unregulated flow entitlements1 (ML)

Supplementary entitlements1 (ML)

Regulated flow entitlements2 (ML)

Total (ML)

Name

Code

Name

Warrego– Paroo–Nebine SS 28 Warrego  Qld

16,050

0

0

16,050

SS 27 Nebine 

5,920

0

0

5,920

Condamine–Balonne SS 26 Condamine–Balonne Qld

35,031

0

0

35,031

Moonie SS 25 Moonie  Qld

1,415

0

0

1,415

Qld Border Rivers SS 24 Qld Border Rivers  Qld

1,000

0

10,610

11,610

Sub-total Queensland

59,416

0

10,610

70,026

NSW Border Rivers SS 23 NSW Border Rivers  NSW

0

0

269

269

Barwon–Darling Watercourse SS 19 Barwon–Darling Watercourse  NSW

22,275

0

0

22,275

NSW Intersecting Streams SS 17 NSW Intersecting Streams NSW

8,106

0

0

8,106

Gwydir SS 22 Gwydir NSW

0

19,540

106,992

126,532

Namoi  SS 21 Namoi  NSW

0

0

6,203

6,203

Macquarie–Castlereagh SS 20 Macquarie–Castlereagh  NSW

0

3,340

146,423

149,763

Lachlan  SS 16 Lachlan  NSW

0

0

137,527

137,527

Murrumbidgee  SS 15 Murrumbidgee  NSW NSW

0

33,237

420,953

454,190

NSW Murray and Lower Darling SS 14 NSW Murray NSW

12,965

100,000

390,379

503,344

SS 18 Lower Darling NSW

0

250,000

48,792

298,792

Sub-total New South Wales

43,346

406,117

1,257,538

1,707,001

Northern Victoria SS 4 Ovens  Vic.

0

0

70

70

SS 5 Broken  Vic.

0

0

51

51

SS 6 Goulburn Vic.

0

0

327,748

327,748

SS 7 Campaspe  Vic.

0

0

0

0

SS 8 Loddon Vic.

0

0

5,588

5,588

Vic. Murray SS 2 Vic. Murray  Vic.

0

34300

361,957

396,257

Wimmera– Mallee  SS 9 Wimmera– Mallee  Vic.

0

0

41,560

41,560

Sub-total Victoria

0

34,300

736,974

771,274

SA Murray SS 11 SA Murray SA

0

0

160,350

160,350

Sub-total South Australia

0

0

160,350

160,350

Total

102,762

440,417

2,165,472

2,708,651

 1 The entitlement volumes shown in the table are a subset of line item 32.2 Surface water access entitlement for non-alloacted diversions. The same line item provides other information associated with the volumes shown in the table.

2 The entitlement volumes shown in the table are a subset of line item 32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions. The same line item provides other information associated with the volumes shown in the table.

 

Additional information on entitlement volumes shown in Table 14 is as follows:

  • Barwon–Darling Watercourse volume is distributed as 7,672 ML for Toorale station and 14,603 ML for Colly station.
  • NSW Intersecting Streams volume reflects unregulated entitlements held by CEWH in the Warrego River.
  • Lachlan regulated entitlement volume is distributed as 1,733 ML high security, 123,794 ML general security and 12,000 ML entitlements created from Savings made outside the Cap for Lake Brewster.
  • Murrumbidgee NSW regulated entitlement volume is distributed as 24,500 ML conveyance, 3,490 ML high security, 358,313 ML general security and 34,650 ML entitlements created outside the Cap for the Forrest Creek.
  • NSW Murray unregulated entitlement reflects 12,965 ML Poon Boon environmental entitlements. Regulated entitlements include 30,000 ML conveyance, 9,787 ML high security, 344,538 ML general security and 6,054 ML entitlements created outside the cap from entitlements of Murray wetland Working Group and TLM.
  • South Australian Murray regulated entitlement volume is distributed as 44,870 ML TLM, 69,370 ML CEWH and 46,110 ML Class 3b (irrigation and holding in the Qualco Sunlands). Class 9 (wetland management) entitlements are not included.
  • Campaspe entitlements are included in Goulburn volumes.

The tables include CEWH-managed 1,368,000 ML of water entitlements during the year, which has a long-term average yield of 984,000 ML per year (Commonwealth Environmental Water 2013a). Entitlement volumes shown in tables 13 and 14 reflect only those that have been recorded as being legally held (or under the administrative operations of the environmental water manager) at the time of compiling the 2012 Account. The volumes on issue of entitlements held for the environment are continually changing as more water is acquired under various programs and when water is traded between valleys. In particular, the volumes held by the CEWH increases as more entitlements are being acquired. The volumes reported in tables 13 and 14 are probably an under-estimation of the volumes on issue at the end of the 2011–12 year, as not all water recovery transactions had been settled by the time information was collected for the 2012 Account.

Groundwater environmental entitlements

Following groundwater environmental entitlements for salinity and water table management have been reported for the 2011–12 year from New South Wales:

  • 236 ML in Lachlan Fold Belt SDL area
  • 10 ML in Lower Murray Alluvium SDL area
  • 10,700 ML in Western Porous Rock SDL area.

 

Environmental water outcomes

Consolidated information on water released under entitlements held for the benefit of the environment was not available for the 2011–12 year. Available information on environmental water outcomes primarily on held environmental water categorisation is provided here.

New South Wales

New South Wales recorded above average rainfall during the 2011–12 year. Several areas in the northern New South Wales recorded their wettest year on record in 2011–12 based on rainfall records from 1900 to 2013. As a result, relatively large amount of environmental water was delivered to wetlands and areas of high biodiversity value.

Table 15 includes summarised information on environmental water use within New South Wales SDL areas during the 2011–12 year.

Table 15  Summary of environmental water use within NSW sustainable diversion limit areas during the 2011–12 year
SDL area

Use of environmental water allocation (ML)

Unregulated flow and supplementary entitlements

Regulated flow entitlements

NSW Border Rivers  0

0

Barwon–Darling Watercourse  0

0

NSW Intersecting Streams 0

0

Gwydir 0

1,798

Namoi  0 0
Macquarie–Castlereagh  1,888

65,251

Lachlan  0

27,551

Murrumbidgee  NSW 0

97,765

NSW Murray 18,741

262,759

Lower Darling 101,822

101,813

Total 122,451 556,937

Source of information: water audit monitoring (WAM) data received from New South Wales (22 January 2013) and stored in the Murray–Darling Basin Authority HYDRO database.

The volumes shown in the table reflects releases made for environmental water needs under various environmental water allocation programs. It is possible that the total volume delivered during the year could be higher than the voIume shown in the above table due to data availability issues. Information on consumptive use out of the volumes shown in the table is not available.

Victoria

Information about environmental watering in Victoria is available in Victorian environmental water holder's watering update. Table 16 includes summarised information on environmental water use within Victorian SDL areas during the 2011–12 year.

Table 16  Summary of environmental water use within Victorian SDL areas during the 2011–12 year
SDL area

Use of environmental water allocation (ML)

Supplementary entitlements

Regulated flow entitlements

Allocation use

Recorded consumptive use 

Ovens 0 70

70

Broken 0 51

51

Goulburn 0 203,294

22,249

Campaspe 0 13,684

7,643

Loddon 0 1,564

1,564

Vic. Murray 10,519 188,780

41,601

Wimmera–Mallee 0 17,697

17,697

Total 10,519 425,140 90,875

Source of information: water audit monitoring (WAM) data received from Victoria (21 March 2013) and stored in the Murray–Darling Basin Authority HYDRO database. It is possible that the total volume delivered during the year could be higher than the volume shown in the above table due to data availability issues.

The supplementary allocation use has been treated as a consumptive use.

 

South Australia

Environmental water management for South Australia was undertaken by the staff from the Department for Water until abolition and then the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR). Table 17 includes summarised information on environmental water use in South Australia (within MDB) during the 2011–12 year. 

 

Table 17  Summary of environmental water use in South Australia (within MDB) during the 2011–12 year
Description Allocation use (ML) Recorded consumptive use (ML) 
Lower Murray swamp irrigation  13,070 13,070
All other environmental water use associated with River Murray 353,265

3,300

Total 366,335 16,370

Source of information: water audit monitoring (WAM) data received from South Australia (15 March 2013) and stored in the Murray–Darling Basin Authority HYDRO database. It is possible that the total volume delivered during the year could be higher than the volume shown in the above table due to data availability issues.

Following environmental water allocations were the sources for environmental water use:

  • 37,039 ML for Lower Murray swamp irrigation
  • 191,234 ML from TLM
  • 202,258 ML from CEWH
  • 74,014 from South Australian environmental reserves.

 

The total allocated volume was 504,544 ML. The lower lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth icon site were the highest priority for receiving environmental water.

Queensland

A summary of information about environmental watering in Queensland can be obtained from the 2011–12 Annual Report for Queensland's WRPs produced by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines. A full copy of the annual report is available on request by emailing WRPWebCoordinator@dnrm.qld.gov.au. Information on the environmental water held by the Commonwealth in Queensland is available from the website. Table 18 summarises information on environmental water use in SDL areas within Queensland during the 2011–12 year.

 

Table 18  Summary of environmental water use in Queensland (within MDB) during the 2011–12 year
SDL area Use of unregulated environmental water allocation (ML)
Warrego  16,050
Nebine  63
Condamine–Balonne 3,054
Moonie  1,415
Qld Border Rivers  1,000
Total 21,582

Source of information: water audit monitoring (WAM) data received from Queensland (4 February 2013) and stored in the Murray–Darling Basin Authority HYDRO database. It is possible that the total volume delivered during the year could be higher than the volume shown in the above table due to data availability issues.

 

As indicated in the Queensland WAM data sources, the volumes provided in the table were considered as non-consumptive uses. In addition to environmental water uses provided in the table, there are the other environmental flow provisions which are primarily rule based in Queensland WRP areas. For these provisions, delivered volume is not available.

Australian Capital Territory

No annual report is published by the Australian Capital Territory Government on environmental watering activities.

Commonwealth

The CEWH has delivered 680,000 ML of environmental water to environmental assets across the region during the 2011–12 year (Commonwealth Environmental Water 2013a). The delivery volumes provided against the States and Territories earlier include CEWH deliveries. Commonwealth Environmental Water (2013b) indicates that Commonwealth environmental water contributed to some key outcomes including:

  • supporting native plant communities in the wetland areas of North Redbank in the Murrumbidgee River

  • improving habitats for aquatic plants and animals, and supporting large-scale breeding by waterbirds in northern Victorian rivers

  • managing water salinity and nutrient levels, which influence the recovery and growth of important food sources for waterbirds and habitat for native fish in the lower Murray River and associated lakes.

Commonwealth environmental water holdings and delivery information are published in the CEWH's Annual Report (Commonwealth Environmental Water 2013a).

Under the Living Murray program, a total of 274,065 ML of water was delivered to Murray River icon sites excluding Koondrook–Perricoota Forests and Hattah Lakes during the 2011–12 year,(Murray–Darling Basin Authority 2013a). This volume is included in the environmental water delivery volumes cited for the States. Information about environmental water delivery under the Living Murray program can be obtained from the Living Murray watering the icon sites-a snapshot 2011-12.

b. Economic, social and cultural benefit

Introduction

Town water supplies are made for various purposes including residential needs, and industrial and commercial purposes. They have been categorised under the social benefit category, assuming their main purpose within the Murray–Darling Basin (MDB) region is to serve residential needs. With that assumption, water right or entitlement classes directly related to social and cultural benefits identified in the MDB region for the 2011–12 year were:

  • surface water entitlements – high security – Aboriginal cultural
  • surface water basic right – stock and domestic
  • surface water entitlements – stock and domestic
  • surface water entitlements – urban supplies
  • surface water entitlements – high security – community and education
  • groundwater basic right – stock and domestic
  • groundwater entitlements – urban supplies.

It is also possible that water supplies made under entitlement categories other than stated in the above list have contributed to social and cultural benefits. The 2012 Account does not recognise those contributions.

Water supplies made under some of the entitlement classes relevant to the following entitlement categories have contributed to economic benefits:

  • Surface water access entitlement for non-allocated diversions (line item 32.2)
  • Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions (line item 32.3)
  • Groundwater access entitlement for allocated extractions (line item 33.3)

The 2012 Account does not recognise details of economic contributions made under the entitlement classes of those entitlement categories.

It is also possible that water supplies made under other statutory surface water and groundwater rights (line items 32.1 and 33.1) have contributed to economic benefits. The 2012 Account does not recognise those contributions.

The 2012 Account assumes that the water right/entitlement class represents its purpose; however, it is likely that people use water for other activities in addition to the intended purpose of the right/entitlement class. This is the case particularly in valleys where trade has been conducted. With trades, it is possible that water moved from different classes and changed the volume for the intended purpose. The 2012 Account provides information based on the class or categorisation of rights or entitlement, but it does not provide information about where or how water was finally used.

Social and cultural rights

Cultural basic right allows abstraction of water by anyone who holds native title rights with respect to water, as determined under the Native Title Act 1993(Cwlth). The right holders can abstract water for a range of needs without holding a water access licence. This includes accessing water for personal, domestic and non-commercial communal purposes such as:

  • manufacture of traditional artefacts
  • hunting, fishing and gathering
  • recreation
  • cultural purposes
  • ceremonial purposes.

Stock and domestic licences for surface water and groundwater basic rights allow the right holders to abstract water to meet basic requirements for household and stock purposes.

Urban water entitlements associated with surface water and groundwater allow water utilities and local councils to provide water for residential needs. 

Jurisdictional provisions for social and cultural water supplies

Queensland

Queensland water resource plans (WRPs) identify that (as outcomes for sustainable water management, among others) the following social and cultural benefits are required (Queensland Government 2009b). Water is to be allocated and managed in a way that seeks to achieve a balance in the following outcomes:

  • to make water available to support economic activity in the plan area while recognising the social and cultural values of communities in the Basin
  • to build social cohesiveness in the community by recognising the multiple users of water, including both Indigenous and non-Indigenous social and cultural needs
  • to promote improved understanding of social and cultural resources.

 Water management rules have been adopted in water resources plan areas to achieve these outcomes.

New South Wales

The vision in the Water Sharing Plan for the Murrumbidgee Regulated River Water Source 2003 is to provide for equitable sharing of limited water resources to sustain a healthy and productive river, to contribute to the welfare and well-being of Murrumbidgee regional communities.

The objectives of the Murrumbidgee plan are to:

  • protect basic landholder rights, as specified in the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW), including native title rights
  • protect town water supply
  • provide for identified recreational water needs
  • protect identified Indigenous and traditional uses of water.

Town water supplies are protected by water access licences. In addition, the Murrumbidgee plan also makes provisions for regulated river—high security—Aboriginal cultural supplies.

Other water sharing plans that have commenced in New South Wales have similar visions and objectives with respect to social and cultural benefits.

The New South Wales plans have also generally adopted an approach that indicates sites of Aboriginal significance, including wetlands, are managed through the environmental watering regime. No specific information was available to identify volumes directed to Aboriginal sites of significance in the 2011–12 year.

 Australian Capital Territory

Limited information was available to explain how the Australian Capital Territory addresses the social and cultural benefits of water.

An objective of the Water Resources Act 1998 (ACT) is to ensure that the use and management of the water resources of the Australian Capital Territory sustain the physical, economic and social well-being of the people of the territory while protecting the ecosystems that depend on those resources.

Victoria

Some of the strategies for managing water for social benefit in Victoria are addressed through the:

  • Victorian permanent water saving rules;
  • incentive and rebate schemes;
  • actions to increase water recycling and alternative water supplies;
  • stormwater and urban water recycling projects; and
  • upgrading of existing treatment facilities.

South Australia

The Water Allocation Plan for the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse sets out provisions for country towns and urban supplies. It also prescribes an allocation for recreation class.

Information on rights and water use related to social and cultural benefits

Rights related to social and cultural aspects, and relevant water use in the 2011–12 year in the MDB region are listed in the following table.

Table 19  Distribution of water rights and use related to social and cultural benefits in the MDB region for the 2011–12 year
Type of water supply

Type of water right

Entitlement class

Water right (ML)

Volume used in the 2011–12 year (ML)

Line item for details of water right

Line itemfor details of water used

Remarks

Surface water rights            
Cultural water supplies Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions High security – Aboriginal cultural

364

32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions 17.11 Entitled diversion of allocated surface water to users Only for Murrumbidgee SDL area in  New South Wales
Social water supplies Surface water basic rights  n/a

68,589

68,589

32.1 Other statutory surface water rights 17.6 Surface water diversions– other statutory rights Only for New South Wales 
Surface water access entitlement for non-allocated diversions Stock and domestic

5,234

32.2 Surface water access entitlement for non-allocated diversions  17.7 Entitled diversion of non-allocated surface water to users  
Urban supplies

41,682

9,861

17.8 Entitled diversion of non-allocated surface water to urban water system For some SDL areas, entitlements for urban supplies are included in other entitlement classes: separate information is not available.
Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions Stock and domestic

88,775

39,313

32.3 Surface water access entitlement for allocated diversions 17.11 Entitled diversion of allocated surface water to users Water right information only for New South Wales and South Australia, diversion information only for New South Wales.
High security – community and education

47

25

Only for Murray SDL area in  New South Wales
Domestic, stock and urban supplies

3,242

ForNorthern Mallee supplies in Murray SDL area in  Victoria
Urban supplies

598,303

296,302

17.12 Entitled diversion of allocated surface water to urban water system Water right information applies to all jurisdictions. However, water use information for Queensland (included in line item 17.11) is excluded.
Total known/applicable surface water rights  

805,872

414,454

     
Groundwater rights            
Social water supplies Groundwater – stock and domestic, and other lumped basic right n/a

194,176

194,176

33.1 Other statutory groundwater rights 18.7 Groundwater extractions– other statutory rights  
Groundwater access entitlement for allocated extractions Stock and domestic

33.3 Groundwater access entitlement for allocated extractions 18.11 Entitled extraction of allocated groundwater to users  
Urban supplies

8,914

18.12 Entitled extraction of allocated groundwater to urban water system  
Total known/applicable groundwater rights  

194,176

203,090

     
Total known/applicable  

1,000,048

617,544

     

 – = no separate information is available