Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to commonly asked questions about the Regulations.

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Background to the Regulations

What is water information?

Section 125 of the Water Act 2007 defines 'Water information'. It means any raw data or value added information product, that relates to the availability, distribution, quantity, quality, use, trading or cost of water.
The definition also covers water access rights, water delivery rights or irrigation rights. It includes contextual information relating to water (such as land use information, geological information and ecological information).


Persons Affected by the Regulations

Who/what are persons?

The regulations use the term 'persons'. This term includes all individuals, trusts, companies and corporations as well as agencies of State, Territory or Australian governments. The regulations require persons to give water information to the Bureau. Currently, the regulations name no individual people. The Bureau uses the terms 'persons' and 'organisations' interchangeably.

The regulations divide organisations into eleven categories based on their functions. Organisations may be in more than one category.

Here is the current list of persons (100KB).

How will I know whether I am required to give water information?

The regulations specify who gives water data as well as the data they are required to give. You can use Water Regulations Online to generate a report of requirements for your organisation.

Can a data collector be included in more than one category in the regulations?

Yes. For example, an organisation can be in one category because they are an urban water utility. They can also be in another category because they manage a major water storage.

What does the term possession, custody or control mean in practical terms?

The regulations only require water data that is in a person's possession, custody or control. The Bureau determines this occurs once the data is in a person's data management system. Data in a field based data logger is not considered to be in a person's possession, custody or control. Timeframes apply from the moment a person enters the data in a data management system.


Giving water information

When am I required to give water information?

You start giving water information once your grace period has expired.

Am I required to give information that I don't already possess?

No. You are only required to give information that is in your possession, custody or control.

In what format do I give my water information?

You must give water information in a form approved by the Director of Meteorology. An Administrative Instrument (535 KB) specifies these approved forms. They may vary for each Person Category and category/subcategory of water information. The instrument may show the approved form as ‘Any format’. In this case, you may give the water data in whatever format you choose, so long as it is in electronic format.

Am I required to give specified water information that I possess if it is in a paper format only?

No, you are only required to give specified information, which you possess if it is in an electronic format. If you have it in a paper format only, you are not required to give it.

What does electronic format mean?

Electronic format means a format that is machine readable. It does not include scanned documents.

If I provide water information to a State or territory agency, do I need to give it again to the Bureau?

We wish to avoid duplicate data provision. If you reasonably believe that we already have certain data in our possession, you are not required to give that data again. Thus, if another organisation is already providing the same water data in the same timeframe, you can elect not to provide it.

In this case you must let the Bureau know in writing, and state the reasons why you believe the Bureau already has the specified data in its possession. You may use the Bureau's declaration of intent form for this purpose.

Once you send us a signed declaration we will not expect to receive from you the water data to which it refers. Later, if we can't confirm that we already have the information, we will contact you again.


Other Exceptions

The regulations group my organisation in a category required to give water information that I do not currently collect. Am I required to now begin collecting that information?

No. The regulations do not require you to undertake new water information collection activities.

I collect reservoir level data weekly, but the regulations require that this information be given daily. I can't comply with that transfer frequency. Does this mean that I am not required to give any information to the Bureau?

No. You are still required to give the information once it is in your possession, custody or control. So, for information required in the regulations to be given daily, you should give it the day after it enters your data management system.

If I start new water data collection activities, am I required to give this new water information to the Bureau?

Yes, if the new information is required by the person category in which you are grouped.

Am I required under these regulations to provide modelled data?

The regulations do not specify modelled data. However, if you use modelled values to fill gaps in a sequence of observed data you should keep these data in the sequence. You would identify the origin of the data values in the metadata.

We do not consider values resulting from the use of conversion algorithms such as rating relationships or storage relationships to be modelled data.

Under section 127 of the Water Act 2007, the Director of Meteorology may require water information, including modelled data. For example, the Director could specifically require modelled data when it provides value added information relevant to a particular analysis or study.

Am I required to report on short term water monitoring projects that I manage?

Specified water information from projects with an expected duration from 12 to 48 months is only required to be given at the end of each financial year. Water information from projects with an expected duration of less than twelve months is only required from persons in categories A and B.

Information collected from a single site for a period of less than 12 continuous weeks does not need to be provided to the Bureau.

What water information am I not required to give?

The regulations do not require information that:

  • is not in your possession, custody or control. Information is regarded as coming into your possession once it is entered onto your data management system;
  • is not in electronic format. Electronic format means a format that is machine readable, but does not include scanned documents;
  • is publicly available on the Bureau's website;
  • you reasonably believe to be already in the Bureau's possession, provided you have notified the Bureau in writing of your decision not to provide it (please complete this form)
  • is collected as part of a project you expect to be of less than 12 months duration (this exemption does not apply to persons listed in Categories A or B in the Water Regulations);
  • is collected from a single site for a period of less than 12 continuous weeks. So specified information from sporadic events, such as wind speed readings taken for fire fighting purposes, is not required (this exemption applies to all named persons including those listed in Categories A and B);
  • is collected solely in order to fulfil a contractual arrangement with another person not named in the Water Regulations.

The regulations specify different timeframes for data from projects. If your project is less than 4 years long, you need only provide the data within 3 months of the end of the financial year in which you have collected it.

Why is the Bureau not issuing national water information standards to support the Regulations?

Water information is collected and reported using a variety of methods and standards across Australia.

The Bureau has chosen not to issue mandatory standards under the authority of the Water Act, but is instead working collaboratively with the water industry to develop and promote water information standards and guidelines.

What is Category 10 water information?

The regulations used to include category 10. This water information category contained descriptive and reference information requirements (metadata requirements). In May 2012 the Bureau amended the regulations to remove Category 10. Data providers must still provide metadata and contextual information, but the requirements are now set out more clearly in a separate document. For more detail, go to the Metadata and Contextual Information Requirements page.


I only have a few spreadsheets of specified data. Does that class as a 'data management system'?

The Water Regulations define a data management system as 'the software and hardware used to manage the storage of and access to information held in a set of related files'.

In some cases a data management system could refer to a dedicated system solely employed to manage hydrometric data. However, many organisations may be managing their water information using generic systems and applications. They may only occupy a small fraction of those systems. In general, your data management system is where you store your operational data and/or your quality controlled data. In some cases, this may be simply a series of spreadsheets or document files stored on a computer.

What about Category H, water information for flood forecasting and warning?

Category H lists persons who provide information for flood forecasting and warning purposes to the Bureau.

Category H persons must give three subcategories of Category 11 water data. These subcategories are: 11a watercourse level, 11b streamflow and 11c precipitation. The regulations require the information hourly. Some persons are also required to give the same water information under subcategories 1a, 1b and 4a. This is because they are listed in another person category. In such cases, the requirement to give the information hourly only applies to the flood information.

The regulations require a person who is in both Category A and Category H to continue providing 11a, 11b and 11c hourly for flood warning purposes. They only need to transfer other 1a, 1b and 4a information daily.



Metadata and contextual information

Do the detailed metadata element lists increase the amount of information that I am required to supply to the Bureau?

No. Before the detailed lists were added, the regulations contained a general requirement for provision of all relevant metadata. The detailed lists simplify the requirement by identifying all the elements required for each subcategory.

Why should I become familiar with the metadata and contextual information element lists?

If the regulations name your organisation, you need to assess whether you hold any of the listed elements on your data management system. You must give metadata and contextual information in accordance with the Metadata and Contextual Information Requirements document at the same time as you give water information. For Category 7 information (information about urban water management), metadata and contextual information requirements are set out in the Urban Water Management Information Requirements document.

Why does the Bureau publish the detailed metadata element lists?

Before July 2012, the regulations contained a separate category of water information for descriptive and reference information about water information in other categories. This Category 10 comprised six subcategories describing, in a limited fashion, metadata requirements. The lack of specificity in the subcategories led to uncertainty around the metadata required.

The 2012 regulations amendment removed Category 10. It also introduced an online document incorporated by reference in the regulations. The document titled Metadata and Contextual Information Requirements comprised the old Category 10 requirements. As well, it included other metadata that used to be part of the subcategory descriptions. The Bureau has progressively identified and added detailed element lists to the online document. This makes the metadata requirements clearer for data providers.

The change enables the Bureau to improve the interpretation of water information. It assists data providers by clearly setting out requirements.

I do not have any of the elements listed in the Metadata and contextual information requirements document?

If that is the case, you are not required to give metadata and contextual information to the Bureau. The Water Act only requires you to give specified water information if it is in your possession, custody or control.

Why can't the regulations' metadata lists include all metadata collected?

Our general rule is to keep the element lists small and contained. This avoids putting an unreasonable impost on data providers. So, the element lists are high-level and minimal and may not cover all metadata collected.

Why does the Bureau publish explanatory notes in addition to the Metadata and contextual information requirements document?

We develop explanatory notes to help data providers understand the requirements.

For each metadata element, the explanatory notes give:

  • a description of the metadata and contextual information element
  • supplementary information about the element relevant examples.

The explanatory notes also include:

  • overview diagrams of the metadata elements
  • common elements for the category of data - providers must give these for each subcategory
  • subcategory specific elements - providers must give these for specified subcategories, along with the common elements.
Does WDTF support all the metadata elements listed?

Yes, for those water information categories that can be given in WDTF.

Can I give elements that are not listed in the incorporated document?

Yes, so long as your data format allows you to.

Can I provide metadata and contextual information that WDTF does not support?

Yes. But, please note that where a subcategory can be given in WDTF, the required metadata can also be given in WDTF.

In my organisation's data management system, the site ID and measuring point ID are the same. We do not record a separate measuring point identifier. What should I report?

Please use the same ID for both site ID and measuring point ID.

Am I required to provide information that is already in the Bureau's possession?

No. You are not required to give water information that is already in the Bureau's possession. However, some data formats, including WDTF, require certain information to be given with each file for them to pass validation tests.

Is bore pipe screen information relevant under vibrating wire piezometers?

You are not required to give bore pipe screen information for groundwater pressure measured using vibrating wire piezometers.

How do I provide bore pipe screen information in the presence of multiple screens?

Some data transfer formats do not support data for multiple screens in the bore pipe. In such situations, take the top measurement of the highest screen and the bottom measurement of the lowest screen. This way it appears as a single screen instead of multiple access points.

Subcategory 5h requires the volume of water delivered to groundwater for aquifer replenishment. There can be differences between volume delivered, volume recharged (eg. after evaporative losses in an infiltration basin) and the volume recoverable. Which volume should I give?

In subcategory 5h, you should report the volume delivered for recharge (e.g. before evaporative losses in an infiltration basin) and not the volume recharged or recoverable.

Are the Regulations metadata requirements for category 9 the same as the requirements in the National Industry Guideline for water quality metadata?
No, the Regulations only request a minimal list of metadata for category 9. In contrast, the Guideline contains many mandatory and optional metadata elements which align with industry recommended best practice although adherence is voluntary.

More information about the Regulations metadata requirements and the National Industry Guidelines can be found at:

Why isn't the Bureau adopting the National Industry Guideline for water quality metadata to support Regulations metadata requirements?

We are keeping the Regulations metadata requirements sufficiently small to allow interpretation of the primary water information.

By contrast, the Guideline recommends a larger suite of mandatory and optional metadata elements for specific data entities. These will help facilitate the consistent collection of metadata, and improve the interoperability and quality of water quality data. The full value of the Guideline will be realised if it is adopted by the majority of organisations. Once this is achieved the Bureau will consider adopting the Guideline instead of the current Regulations metadata requirements.


Publishing water information

Will the Bureau 'name and shame' major water users?

No. The Water Act 2007 limits the ability of the Bureau to publish the identity of water users. The Bureau cannot publish water information in a way that expressly identifies an individual's water use, unless that water information is already published or is otherwise publicly available in a way that expressly identifies the individual's water use.

Will all information held by the Bureau be publicly available?

The Bureau's aim is to make public as much as possible of the water information. But, there may be cases where publication would not be in the public interest.


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