National Water Account 2016

Murray–Darling Basin: Governance

Murray River at Renmark, South Australia © Michael Bell, MDBA

Accountability Statement

1. This water accounting report has been prepared and presented in accordance with the Australian Water Accounting Standards, with the following exceptions:

  • No assurance statement was prepared because the standard for, and practice of, assurance of water accounting reports are currently not available.
  • Notes on the quantification approaches and levels of uncertainty are incomplete because the knowledge base is often inadequate.
  • No information is disclosed about material events that occurred after 30 June 2016, such as extreme precipitation and significant water rights purchases. This information is publicly available elsewhere.
  • The volumes of changes to water assets and water liabilities that failed the recognition criteria were reported in the water accounting statements with dashes ('–') in order to highlight data and knowledge gaps that may affect the water accounting statement balances.

2. The report has been compiled from the best data available, as detailed in the water accounting statement notes, in the time available to compile it from a number of sources. The Bureau of Meteorology takes a nationally-consistent approach to report preparation and presentation. Therefore, for a few items there may be local data of higher quality that were not used.

3. All significant and specific interpretations of the Australian Water Accounting Standard 1 for the purpose of the preparation of this report are explained in the 'Water accounting policies' note. The Bureau of Meteorology is responsible for these interpretations.

 

Robert Argent

Assistant Director, Water Information Services

Bureau of Meteorology

29 June 2017

 

Water accounting policies

Introduction

The information presented in the Murray–Darling Basin region water accounting report is based on agreements between the Bureau of Meteorology (the Bureau) and:

  • the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA)
  • Snowy Hydro Limited.

This report has been prepared using an accrual basis of water accounting, with the exception of the physical water flow information. The water attribute being quantified is volume, and the unit of account is megalitres (ML). Where a reported volume is negative, it is shown in brackets. The applicable reporting period is from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016. The surface water diversion volumes reported in 'Key findings' and 'Water access and use' are net volumes. The reported surface water diversion volumes also exclude interceptions (plantations and run-off dams). Volumes reported in all other sections of this report were the gross volumes for the region.

Transactions between water assets and water liabilities within the region (e.g. between the surface water store and the groundwater store) are not reported in the water accounting statements because they do not affect the region's total water assets and water liabilities.

 

Recognition of water assets and water liabilities

Only water that is held or managed by the jurisdictional licensing authority and from which future benefit can be derived by stakeholders of the region is identified as a water asset.

Water liabilities are constituted by present commitments to supply water, the discharge of which is expected to result in a decrease in the region's water assets or an increase in another water commitment to supply water.

Provided its volume can be quantified in a way that is complete, neutral, and free from material error, the volume of the water asset or water liability is recognised in the Statement of Water Assets and Water Liabilities.

Water held in storages that has already been abstracted from the entitlement system (e.g. farm dams) is deemed not to be part of the region (regardless of the storage's size or connection to the system). This is because the attendant water right has already been exercised.

The volume of groundwater assets included in the water accounting statements has been recognised as the sustainable diversion limits (SDL) for SDL resource units defined under the Basin Plan.

 

Recognition of changes in water assets and water liabilities

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

Precipitation and evaporation are recognised on storage surfaces and only for major rivers within the region. These include storages, lakes, weirs, and locks in the regulated and unregulated rivers. It does not represent all precipitation, evaporation and evapotranspiration within the region (notably, these processes occurring from the landscape are not captured).

The portion of runoff from landscape that flows into the surface water store is quantified and recognised in the Statement of Changes in Water Assets and Water Liabilities and the Statement of Water Flows. This runoff includes precipitation captured in the catchment less estimated evaporation and seepage and is recorded as runoff to surface water.

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

The volume of water that returns after urban use, recorded as discharge from urban supply system and discharge from wastewater system, meets the identification criteria as an increase to water assets; wherever it could be quantified accurately, it is recognised in the Statement of Changes in Water Assets and Water Liabilities and Statement of Water Flow.

Other groundwater increases and other groundwater decreases do not represent any physical groundwater flow. The volumes provided represent the change of the long-term estimates of volumes for extraction between the reporting year and the previous year. These changes were as a result of revision of SDL volumes, implementation of new water sharing plans, abolition of existing plans, or changes made to New South Wales supplementary access licences. Both the Statement of Changes in Water Assets and Water Liabilities and Statement of Water Flows include 'Other groundwater increases' and 'Other groundwater decreases'.

 

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

The volumes of changes to several water assets identified in the region were not reported in the water accounting statements but replaced by dashes ('–') as they 'failed the recognition criteria' specified in the Australian Water Accounting Standard 1, because they could not be quantified in a way that was complete, neutral, and free from material error.

The volumes that failed the recognition criteria relate to (see Surface water store and Groundwater store sections in 'Water store' note):

  • direct discharge to surface water by users
  • landscape recharge from surface water
  • leakage to groundwater from farm dams, urban system and irrigation schemes.

Relevant volumes that could not be quantified form part of:

  • river and floodplain leakage, evaporation and errors
  • unaccounted-for difference.

 

Restatement of comparative year information

In accordance with the Australian Water Accounting Standard 1, comparative year volumes must be restated in the statements if there was a prior-period error or a change in item presentation. Comparative year volumes are not required to be restated if there is a change in scope or methodology or subsequent data availability for the quantification of an item.

The following comparative year volumes in the water accounting statements were restated from the 2015 Account due to several reasons.

 

 

Table N1 Changes in item volumes from the 2015 Account
Account itemRevised 2015 volume in 2016 Account (ML)Volume reported in 2015 Account (ML)Difference (ML)
Updated information
Surface water allocation remaining: individual users1,977,0021,805,817171,185
Surface water allocation remaining: environmental purposes877,283665,419211,864
Groundwater allocation remaining: individual users749,860498749,362
Groundwater allocation remaining: environmental purposes2,2561,310946
Surface water adjustment and forfeiture: individual users(763,930)(612,532)(151,398)
Surface water adjustment and forfeiture: environmental purposes68,95623,44745,509
Groundwater adjustment and forfeiture: individual users129,352853,094(723,742)
Groundwater adjustment and forfeiture: environmental purposes(318)26,248(26,566)
Non-allocated environmental diversions and other environmental decreases280,930120,550160,380
Surface water allocation: individual users5,206,8415,187,05419,787
Surface water allocation: environmental purposes1,951,4451,637,434314,011
Prior period errors      
Recharge: surface water453,058140,620312,438
Recharge: groundwater453,058140,620312,438
Non-allocated diversion: individual users773,927778,334(4,407)
Non-allocated diversion: urban system10,5616,1544,407
Allocated diversion: environmental purposes1,695,2701,638,63256,638
Discharge: landscape2,144,4162,106,68037,736
Change in presentation      
Allocated extractions: individual users1,289,5941,274,03915,555
Allocated extractions: environmental purposes015,555(15,555)
Groundwater allocation: individual users2,166,4652,125,29041,175
Groundwater allocation: environmental purposes1,83943,014(41,175)
Other reasons   
River and floodplain losses5,285,9265,815,382(529,456)

 

Restatements due to prior-period errors have been made to correct data translation and calculation errors.

The volume for river and floodplain losses for the 2014–15 year has been restated as a result of an update to the surface water store variables, which are inputs to the water balance calculation for this item.

 

Reporting of water trade

It is assumed that all water traded (allocation trade) within the Murray–Darling Basin region was provided to an account holder within the region, even though delivery may have been provided via the distribution network to a location outside of the region.

Water trades are not reported in the water accounting statements; however, some water trades result in the conversion of the category and purpose of use, which will affect their classification. It is believed these effects are reflected in relevant information for allocation remaining, allocation announcements, allocation diversion, and forfeiture and adjustments in the water accounting statements.

Information about interstate, inter-valley and intra-valley trade is included in the Water market activity note.

 

Reporting of external transfers

Transfers of water that occur across the boundaries of the Murray–Darling Basin region and impact on the water assets and water liabilities of the region are reported in the water accounting statements. Information about these transfers is also provided in the 'Water resources' section of the 'Geographic information' (Figure R9) note.

 

Level of reporting in case of bulk entitlements in Victoria

When water is managed under a bulk entitlement in Victoria (see Water entitlements and other statutory water rights section under 'Water rights'), the 2016 Account reports at the level of the collective retail water access entitlements issued under the bulk entitlements. This means that the water liabilities identified against the region are the allocations announced on these retail entitlements and for bulk entitlements held for the benefit of the environment. Where a bulk entitlement holder has a claim over water located outside the region, that claim will likewise be identified as a water asset of the region.

 

Reconciliations

Introduction

The following reconciliation tables verify:

  • how the region’s closing water storage in the Statement of Water Flows reconciles to the total water assets reported in the Statement of Water Assets and Water Liabilities
  • how the region’s change in water storage in the Statement of Water Flows reconciles to the change in net water assets reported in the Statement of Changes in Water Assets and Water Liabilities.

 

Closing water storage with total water assets

 

Table N2 Reconciliation of closing water storage to total water assets for the Murray–Darling Basin region
 2016
ML
2015
ML
   
Closing water storages presented in the Statement of Water Flows 16,246,86915,792,469
Surface water  
Storages 9,059,5259,681,284
Rivers 1,960,497897,210
Lakes and wetlands 1,875,0021,865,132
Other assets 18,10515,103
Groundwater  
Aquifers 3,333,7403,333,740
Total water storage as presented in the
Statement of Water Assets and Water Liabilities
 16,246,86915,792,469
   
add Other water assets  
Claims: inter-region 608,1431,238,860
   
Total water assets 16,855,01217,031,329

 

 

Net change in water storage to the change in net water assets

 

Table N3 Reconciliation of the net change in water storage to the change in net water assets for the Murray–Darling Basin region
 2016
ML
2015
ML
Change in net water assets as presented in the Statement of Changes in Water Assets and Water Liabilities 75,426(3,435,835)
adjustments for:  
Change in non-physical water assets  
Claims: inter-region 630,717(568,034)
Total change in non-physical water assets630,717(568,034)
   
Change in water liabilities  
Surface water liability  
Allocation remaining: individual users(139,162)(590,601)
Allocation remaining: urban system(30)0
Allocation remaining: environmental purposes(18,566)187,219
Groundwater liability  
Allocation remaining: individual users(94,570)747,519
Allocation remaining: environmental purposes5852,157
Total change in water liabilities(251,743)346,294
   
Net change in water storage as presented in the Statement of Water Flows454,400(3,657,575)