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National Water Account 2017

Burdekin: Water rights

Licences to take water for consumptive use are administered by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.


For further information on the region's water management scroll down this page or click on the links below:



Operating rules and constraints

Control of the abstraction of water is exercised by Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines through allocation planning and water licensing arrangements. Water can only be abstracted from designated areas within the region when a water authorisation (water allocation, license or permit) is issued.

There are two types of surface water licences (associated with the operation of water supply schemes or the distribution of water to a water allocation holder) issued in the Burdekin region: resource operations licences (ROLs) and distribution operations licences (DOLs). The holders of either of these licences must comply with the supply and operating requirements contained in the relevant resource and distribution operations licence and resource operations manual (see Water management plans) Surface water licences are also issued for unsupplemented water, including water licences to take, licences to interfere and licences to divert.

In the Burdekin region, SunWater is the ROL holder for the two water supply schemes, Burdekin Haughton and Bowen Broken. Lower Burdekin Water are the DOL holders for the lower Burdekin River area. The water infrastructure that SunWater and Lower Burdekin Water are responsible for are outlined in the Burdekin Haughton the Bowen Broken water supply scheme resource operations licences.

The Burdekin GMA water–sharing rules are the rules prescribed under the Water Regulation 2016 for a water licence not managed under the protocol. The water–sharing rules describe the arrangements under which access to underground water within the Burdekin GMA is managed. The Burdekin water-sharing rules apply to all underground water taken from the Burdekin GMA other than for stock and domestic purposes or a prescribed activity. The water–sharing rules also outline seasonal water assignment rules for the area.


Water entitlements and other statutory water rights

In Queensland, the primary statutory legislation is the Water Act 2000 (Water Act). Under the Water Act, authorisation to abstract water is generally via either:

  • a statutory authorisation: the Water Act allows taking water for certain purposes or uses (e.g., riparian landholder watering of stock or for domestic purposes) without an entitlement; or
  • a water entitlement: there are various types of licences or authorities to abstract water under the Water Act, each with a different regulatory framework attached to them.Surfae

Surface water managed under a Water Plan has two distinct categories:

  • regulated (or 'supplemented') access to water within a water supply scheme managed via dams and distribution systems; and
  • unregulated (or 'unsupplemented') access to water in a natural river or aquifer system

Supplemented and unsupplemented water entitlements are prioritised, managed, and administered separately. The annual volume able to be abstracted under a supplemented water entitlement will vary from year to year, and is referred to as an announced allocation. The announced allocation is based on the sharing rules described in Chapter 3 of the Operations Manual (see Water management plans).


Water allocations

In the Burdekin region, annual water allocations are provided for all water users within water supply schemes. The allocation percentage (AA%) for each allocation group are determined from the water sharing rules. Allocations are announced on the first day of the water year by the ROL holder (SunWater) and apply to supplemented (regulated) water access entitlement holders only. The annual allocation announcement is expressed as a percentage (AA%) for users within a water supply scheme and represents the maximum volume of supplemented water that may be abstracted by a water rights holder during the year. Additional announcements may be made during the year if additional water becomes available. For example, if an announced allocation percentage is initially below 100%, subsequent announcements may be made to increase the percentage. The percentage cannot be reduced during a water year, and once the announced allocation percentage reaches 100% no further increases to the limit can occur. Unsupplemented water users (outside water supply schemes) are assigned an announced entitlement (AE%). The AE% only applies to specific regulated areas. There are no specific areas identified for surface water in the Burdekin plan, although, there is for groundwater. There is unsupplemented water take in the scheme area where water harvesting is permitted (riparian take). These users are permitted to take during announced periods based on flow thresholds.

Urban licence holders of regulated (supplemented) entitlements will generally have a 'high priority' allocation applied to their entitlement (generally set at 100%). Other regulated licence holders with a 'medium priority' allocation will be subject to an announced allocation percentage. In the Burdekin region, the water year for licence holders is generally 1 July to 30 June unless otherwise specified.

Other management methodologies apply to unsupplemented (unregulated) water entitlements.


Trades and water rights transfers

There are three active water markets in Queensland: water allocations, seasonal water assignments and relocatable water licences. The water allocation market concerns the trading of regulated water access entitlements; the seasonal water assignment market deals with the seasonal (temporary) assignment of water allocations and other entitlements; and the relocatable market concerns the relocation of water licences from one parcel of land to another.

Currently the Burdekin region only conducts trade that involves surface water but markets for groundwater trading may be developed in the future.


Water market rules: inter-valley and within-valley trading

Water allocations in Queensland are separate from land rights, and are partly or wholly tradeable and registered on the Department of Natural Resources and Mines water allocation register. Relocatable licences can be partly or wholly traded after assessment and are specific to a water resource plan or zone within a water resource plan area.

The rules for water allocation trading (temporary trades referred to as 'seasonal water assignment') are detailed in the Water Regulation 2016, Water plan (Burdekin Basin) 2007, Burdekin Basin water management protocol and the water–sharing policy for the Burdekin GMA.

Water trading occurred within the Burdekin region during the 2016–17 year. Information on water rights trading in the Burdekin Basin region during the 2016–17 year can be found in the Water market activity note.

There was no trade between the Burdekin region and any other part of Queensland during the 2016–17 year. More information on water markets in Queensland is available on the Department of Natural Resources and Mines website.


Restrictions on trade

No restrictions on trade other than the rules listed in the Water plan (Burdekin Basin) 2007  exist.