Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to commonly asked questions about the Regulations.
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Background to the Regulations
- What is water information?
'Water information' is defined in s125 of the Water Act 2007 to mean any raw data or any value added information product, that relates to: (a) the availability, distribution, quantity, quality, use, trading or cost of water; or (b) water access rights, water delivery rights or irrigation rights; and 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, required to give water information to the Bureau. Currently, no individual people are named in the Regulations. The Bureau also refers to persons as organisations.
Organisations named in the Regulations are divided into nine categories based on functions. Organisations may be in more than one category.
- How will I know whether I am required to give water information?
The Regulations specify which persons are required to give information and the kinds of information they are required to give. This website features a tool to enable you to search using your organisation name and to generate a report of any requirements placed on your organisation by the Regulations.
- Can a data collector be included in more than one category in the Regulations?
Yes. For example, a data collector could be included in one category because they divert surface water and in a second category because they manage a major water storage.
- What does the term possession, custody or control mean in practical terms?
Under the Water Regulations 2008, persons are required to give specified electronic water information that is in their possession, custody or control. The Bureau determines information as being in a person's possession, custody or control once it is in a person's data management system. Therefore information that is in a field based data logger is not for the purposes of these Water Regulations regarded as being in a person's possession, custody or control. The timeframes in the Water Regulations only apply from the moment that specified water information is in a person's data management system.
Giving water information
- When am I required to give water information?
You are required to commence giving water information to the Bureau of Meteorology once your grace period has expired.
- Am I required to give information that I don't already possess?
No. The Water Act 2007 states that 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 the approved forms for each Person Category and Category/Subcategory of water information. Where the approved form is shown as ‘Any format’, the water information may be given 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, but does not include scanned documents.
- If I provide water information to a state or territory agency, do I need to report it again to the Bureau of Meteorology?
The Bureau wishes to avoid information being provided twice. The Regulations state that if a person reasonably believes that certain information is already in the Bureau's possession, the person will not be required to give that information again to the Bureau. Thus, if you know that another organisation is already providing the same water information to the Bureau in the same timeframe as set in the Regulations, you can then elect not to provide it.
However, you must inform the Bureau in writing of your decision and the reasons why you believe the Bureau already has the specified information in its possession. You may want to use the Bureau's declaration of intent form for this declaration.
Once you send us a signed declaration we will not expect to receive from you the water information to which it refers. Later, if we are unable to confirm that the information is in the Bureau's possession, we will contact you again.
- The category of persons in which I am grouped, is required to give water information elements 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 daily information that must be transferred at least once per day, you are required to give it no later than midday on the working day following the day on which it enters your data management system.
- If I undertake new water information collection activities after the commencement of the Regulations, am I required to provide this new water information to the Bureau?
Provided the new information that you collect is information that the category of persons in which you are grouped is required to give, then you must give it to the Bureau once it is in your possession, custody or control.
- Am I required under these Regulations to provide modelled data?
Modelled data is not specifically requested under these Regulations. However, where modelled values are used to infill gaps in sequences of observed data, these modelled values will be required to be included with the routine provision of the observed data. Metadata will enable the origin of the data values to be identified. Data values resulting from the application of conversion algorithms (such as rating relationships or storage relationships) are not considered to be modelled data. The Director may also, under a separate section (s127) of the Water Act 2007, make particular requests for water information including modelled data. For example, modelled data could be specifically requested when it provides value added information relevant to a particular analysis or study being undertaken by the Bureau.
- 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 no more than twelve months is only required from persons in categories A and B.
Information collected from a single site for a period of no more than 12 continuous weeks does not need to be provided to the Bureau.
- What water information am I not required to give?
As a person named in the Water Regulations 2008 you are required to give specified water information.
However, you are not required to give specified 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 no more 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.
If you are collecting specified water information solely for the purposes of a project you expect to last no more 48 months you need only provide that information within 3 months of the end of the financial year in which the information was collected.
- 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 recognises that the development of national standards is a major task and that the implementation of those standards will entail a significant change process for many water data collectors and managers. The Bureau will develop these new national standards in consultation with lead water agencies over the coming years. It is not envisaged that any standards will be issued before 2012. As a first step, the Bureau is setting up panels of water experts to tackle the development of particular standards.
- What is Category 10 water information?
Category 10 information covered descriptive and reference information (metadata) that the regulations required data providers to give at the same time as water information in other categories. Under the amended regulations, data providers must still provide this metadata and contextual information. For more details, 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. For many organisations, however, water information may be managed using more generic systems and applications and may only occupy a small fraction of those systems. In general the Bureau views the system/s where you store your operational data and/or your quality controlled data as your data management system/s and acknowledges that 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?
This category is made up of named 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 hourly, namely: 11a water level, 11b streamflow and 11c precipitation. Where persons are also required to give the same water information under subcategories 1a, 1b and 4a because they are listed in another person category, the requirement to give the information hourly only applies to the flood information.
Thus a person who is in both Category A and Category H will be required to continue providing 11a, 11b and 11c hourly for flood warning purposes, as currently given to the Bureau. Other 1a, 1b and 4a information need only be transferred 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. Previously, organisations were required to supply all metadata about a subcategory of data. The detailed metadata element lists refine the list of metadata elements that an organisation is required to supply for a specific subcategory of data.
- Why should I become familiar with the metadata and contextual information element lists?
If your organisation is named in the Regulations, you need to assess whether you hold any of the listed elements on your data management system. The Regulations require named organisations to give to the Bureau metadata and contextual information in accordance with the Metadata and contextual information requirements document at the same time as they give their water information.
- Why does the Bureau publish the detailed metadata element lists?
Pre July 2012, the regulations contained Category 10–Descriptive and reference information about water information in other categories. Category 10 comprised six subcategories that described, in a limited fashion, metadata requirements and the lack of specificity led to uncertainty around the metadata required.
The 2012 amendment to the regulations removed Category 10 and introduced an online document incorporated by reference in the regulations. The document titled Metadata and contextual information requirements contained the old Category 10 requirements along with other metadata that the amendment had removed from subcategory descriptions.
This change enables the Bureau to improve the interpretation of water information and to assist data providers by progressively add detailed lists of metadata and contextual information elements to the online document.
- I do not have any of the elements listed in the Metadata and contextual information requirements document?
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 that the element lists are sufficiently small and contained to avoid putting an unreasonable impost on data providers. Therefore, the Regulations 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?
The Bureau develops explanatory notes to help data providers understand the requirements in the detailed metadata and contextual information element lists. The explanatory notes include:
- common elements for the category of data – must be given for each subcategory
- subcategory specific elements – must be given for specified subcategories in addition to the common elements
- overview of metadata element diagrams.
For each metadata element, the explanatory notes provide:
- a description of the metadata and contextual information element
- supplementary information about the element
- relevant examples.
- Are all the metadata elements listed in the Metadata and contextual information requirements document supported by WDTF?
Yes, all Metadata elements are supported by WDTF with the exception of some elements specific to 2c. These elements can be provided in formats other than WDTF and we are in the process of incorporating these elements in WDTF.
- Can I give metadata and contextual information elements that are not listed in the Metadata and contextual information requirements document?
Yes, so long as your data format allows you to. Please note, data providers who are not giving data in WDTF and can give additional metadata information through other formats, still need to comply with the Regulations metadata requirements.
- Can I provide metadata and contextual information that WDTF does not support?
Yes. However, please note that WDTF supports all the detailed elements listed in the Metadata and contextual information requirements document with the exception of some elements specific to 2c. These elements can be provided in formats other than WDTF and we are in the process of incorporating these elements 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 details are left to data formats, i.e., WDTF to specify how to handle replication of some information.
- Is bore pipe screen information relevant under vibrating wire piezometers?
Groundwater pressure measured by using ‘vibrating wire piezometers’ does not require giving bore pipe screen information.
- 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 2c requires data providers to give the volume of water supplied for aquifer recharge. There can be differences between volume supplied, volume recharged (eg. after evaporative losses in an infiltration basin) and the volume recoverable. Which volume should I give?
In subcategory 2c, you should report the volume supplied for recharge (eg. before evaporative losses in an infiltration basin) and not the volume recharged or recoverable.
Publishing water information
- Will the Bureau publicly '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 objective is to make as much as possible of the water information publicly available on the Internet. There may, however, be cases where the Director of Meteorology may decide that publication would not be in the public interest.
- Isn't the Bureau's main role in water information to provide a coarse overview of how water resources are distributed and shared in Australia?
No. Compared to previous National Land and Water Resources Audit (NLWRA) and National Water Commission (NWC) sponsored national water resource assessments, the Bureau will undertake a more rigorous and detailed assessment requiring the use of much more extensive data sets than have been used hitherto.
- Will the annual water resource assessments place a large impost on information providers?
No. Unlike in previous NLWRA- and NWC-sponsored national water resource assessments, the Bureau will perform most of the assessment tasks itself. The Bureau will also assist information providers in setting up information transfer arrangements.
- Will the States and Territories be consulted on how water resource assessments and annual water accounts are prepared?
Yes. Through the Jurisdictional Reference Group on Water Information (JRGWI) and various Expert Panels, State water information specialists will be invited to contribute to the development of new national water resource assessment and water accounting methodologies. In the latter case (water accounting) the Bureau will rely heavily on the recommendations of the Water Accounting Standards Board (WASB).