Adelaide
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 Adelaide region's water resources and the associated allocation announcements and abstractions.

The 2014 Account acknowledges that the legislative water resource management frameworks relating to Australian water rights vary greatly across jurisdictions, sometimes making comparisons difficult. To facilitate meaningful comparisons between the water accounting reports included in the 2014 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 2013–14 year have been classified as shown below.

 

Surface water rights

The volume of surface water entitlements, corresponding water allocations or water rights, and volumes of abstraction for the 2013–14 year, compared with the previous two years, are shown in Figure 1. The percentage shows the ratio of abstraction to the water entitlement.

In the National Water Account, water is defined 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'. Following the National Water Account definition, surface water rights consist of water rights associated with diverting water from a watercourse.

Note that water allocations and abstractions related to the urban water system appear in the Surface water note; however, they do not appear in the water accounting statements because they are transactions that occurred within the region and therefore did not impact upon its total water assets and water liabilities.

Figure 1 Surface water access entitlements, allocations and abstractions in the Adelaide region for the years ending 30 June 2014, 2013 and 2012

Figure 1 Surface water access entitlements, allocations and abstractions in the Adelaide region for the years ending 30 June 2014, 2013 and 2012

 

Figure 1 shows that allocation announcements and diversions for 'Individual users: allocated' has been similar for the past three years, with only a very slight decrease in water use observed in the 2014 year. The diversions reported here include water that was diverted from the Barossa Prescribed Water Resources Area (PWRA) for all years. Diversions from the Little Para Prescribed Wells Area (PWA) are included for the 2013–14 year only. The diversions made under other statutory rights include metered diversions from the Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA. These diversions are reported here because the licences for individual users are still being issued. See Surface water outflows for more information.

The volume reported in 2012 for 'Individual users: non-allocated' refers to SA Water's entitlement to divert a maximum of 143,000 ML of water from the Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA for public water supply. As the licence was yet to be issued in the 2011–12 year, the volume diverted was categorised as a non-allocated diversion and reported as individual use. From the 2012–13 year, this same diversion of water was categorised under the urban water system. The volume diverted under this entitlement in the 2011–12 year was considerably more than the volume diverted during the 2012–13 year and 2013–14 years, reflecting the shift towards other water sources for urban supply, such as desalinated water and River Murray water.

 

Groundwater rights

The volume of groundwater allocation and abstraction for the 2013–14 year compared with the previous two years is shown in Figure 2. The percentage shows the ratio of abstraction to the allocation announcement.


Figure 2 Groundwater allocations and extractions in the Adelaide region for the years ending 30 June 2014, 2013 and 2012
Figure 2 Groundwater allocations and extractions in the Adelaide region for the years ending 30 June 2014, 2013 and 2012


Groundwater allocation announcements only exist in the Adelaide region for individual users. Approximately 80% of licences are issued are for irrigation, with other services including recharge water credits, industrial, recreational and stock and domestic use. There were no groundwater allocations for the urban water system. See the Groundwater note for further information on groundwater extractions and allocations.

Figure 2 shows that the volume of extraction for individual users under allocation announcements increased by almost 60% from 2011–12 to 2012–13, while the volume of extractions in 2012–13 and 2013–14 remained similar. Other statutory rights were not quantified in the 2011–12 year due to lack of available data. These extractions were quantified for the Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA, and the Kangaroo Flat portion of the Northern Adelaide Plains PWA. Other statutory rights extractions decreased by almost 25% in 2013–14 from the previous year.

Non-allocated extractions for the irrigation scheme represents recycled water which is injected to groundwater for storage and subsequently supplied to the Willunga Basin Water Company for irrigation, as part of the Aldinga Aquifer Storage and Recovery Scheme. The recycled water is supplied from the Christies Beach WWTP and injected to the Port Willunga Formation aquifer for temporary storage. This scheme has been operating since 2012–13.

 

Water market activity

In the Adelaide region, trade or lease of water entitlements and allocations does not occur between prescribed area 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 2013–14 year includes trades within both the Barossa and the Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA.

For groundwater, trade has been reported within the following groundwater resource areas:

  • Barossa PWRA
  • McLaren Vale PWA
  • Northern Adelaide Plains PWA
  • Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA.

 

Table 1 Information on the surface water and groundwater trade in the Adelaide region during the 2013–14 year
TransactionTransaction typeManagement areaNumber of licencesVolume
(ML)
surface water entitlement transactions within regiontradeBarossa PWRA6165
Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA9208
groundwater entitlement transactions within region tradeBarossa PWRA25490
McLaren Vale  PWA33368
Northern Adelaide Plains PWA411,100
Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA541,978
leaseBarossa PWRA110
McLaren Vale PWA317
Northern Adelaide Plains PWA22415
groundwater allocation transactions within regiontradeBarossa PWRA423
McLaren Vale PWA1392
Northern Adelaide Plains PWA456
Total  2154,922
 
 
 

Water use

Economic, social and cultural benefit

Surface water and groundwater are used for economic purposes in the Adelaide region including urban water supply and 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 both the Surface water and Groundwater sections in 'Supporting information for water accounting statements'.

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 South Australian Natural Resources Management Act 2004, the Australian Government Native Title Act 1983 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 Prescribed Watercourse and the Barossa PWRA. For further information refer to the relevant water allocation plan:

 

Environmental benefit

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, water for environmental benefit is provided according to three different environmental water management scenarios:

  • planned unregulated surface water
  • planned partly regulated surface water
  • planned groundwater.

Planned unregulated surface water

Environmental water determination and commitment

In the planned unregulated surface water situation, environmental water requirements are met by controlling the water access regime through water allocation plans.

Water allocation plans 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 Prescribed Water Resources Area (PWRA) and Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA are managed by a water allocation plan (Barossa PWRA Water Allocation Plan and Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA Water Allocation Plan).

The Barossa PWRA Water Allocation Plan identifies ecological flow requirements for water-dependent ecosystems in three reaches of the North Para River, located within the managed area.The ecological flow requirements considers different flow bands (baseflow, freshets, pool connection, etc.) and identifies target streamflow 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 Water Allocation Plan (AMLRNRMB: 12–13: tables 4–6) and were developed to ensure that the frequency and seasonality of streamflows closely resembles what would occur naturally. The applicable threshold flow rates are described in more detail in principles 63–64 of the water allocation plan (AMLRNRB: 49-50).

Similarly, the Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA Water Allocation plan details environmental water provisions that aim to maintain water-dependent ecosystems at an acceptable level of risk: a target that is expected to allow indicator populations to be self-sustaining. Environmental provisions are details in ss 2.3–2.5 and include managing the impacts of water extractions through the use of threshold flow rates and reservoir releases (see below regarding SA Water's environmental commitment).

 

Environmental water outcomes

Although the Barossa PWRA Water Allocation Plan describes target streamflows and rules associated with water licences to achieve this, these regimes are not used for monitoring or compliance.

The Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA Water Allocation Plan was only adopted on the 17 September 2013 and is still in the process of issuing licences for water abstraction. No information was available on environmental water outcomes for this prescribed area for the 2013–14 year.

 

Planned partly regulated surface water

Environmental water determination and commitment

In the planned partly regulated surface water situation, environmental water requirements are met by operational releases from storages to control or influence flows. During the 2013–14 year, SA Water was issued with a water licence under the South Australian Natural Resources Management Act 2004. This licence entitles SA Water to divert up to an annual maximum of 143,000 ML of surface water from the Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA for the purposes of public water supply. According to the licence conditions, SA Water will participate in an environmental flow trial with the objective of establishing, timing, frequency, duration and governance of environmental flows up to 16,500 ML per annum as defined under the Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA Water Allocation Plan.

 

Environmental outcomes

No information was available on the water released under the trial programme during the 2013–14 year.