Australia faces regular droughts, making water resources critical to several activities, including farming enterprises. Water entitlements and rights are regulated by the Water Act 2000. With its management in Queensland, the Act ensures each region in Queensland receives water. It is in hand with the Resource Operation Plans, which sets the rules that govern water dealings in different areas. As a result, water trading has become commonplace even for companies whose business is not water. It, therefore, calls for a better understanding of how water rights work in Australia.
What Are Australian Water Rights?
These are assets or entitlement to an ongoing share of the total available water in a system. The groundwater and surface water resources in South Australia are under the regulation of the Landscape South Australia Act 2019. Under this Act, you can understand the rights of a person taking and using the water include:
- For domestic and stocks are right where these specific uses aren’t prescribed.
- Water access entitlement and water licences.
- Notice of Authorisation under section 105 of the same Act.
You will need government approval when installing or constructing features to capture or extract surface or groundwater. However, taking water by hand is mostly not regulated, and you won’t need government approval to take water from natural streams like lakes or rivers. As such, these are the known water rights in Australia. These are the water rights:
• Water Allocation
It is the authority that one has, enabling them to take water and share it through entitlement. This kind of right has no attachment to the land and comes with a separate certificate. With the certificate, you can sell the water entitlement separate from the land on which it sits. Once the owner gets the certificate of title, their ownership information is entered into the Water Allocations Register. Additionally, Australian citizens can lease their water allocation rights or mortgage them depending on their needs, interests, or circumstances.
Water allocation rights or entitlements further fall into two sub-categories:
- Supplemented allocations – where water is from any storage infrastructure, such as weirs or dams, and its delivery system is managed or managed by an operator with a licence.
- Unsupplemented allocation is where the Department of Resources manages water from an overland flow or underground.
• Water Licence
This authority permits using water on a given piece of land, for instance, the spring, underground water, overflow, or watercourse. A water licence differs from the water allocation rights that allow for selling entitlement without including the land. With a water licence, you can sell the water and the land on which the water is. However, they can’t be separated. In some parts of Australia, it’s vital to understand how water rights work. There are areas where you would need a water licence to use bore water for domestic or stock. Therefore, when buying land with water bodies, it is essential to research water data entitlement. It helps determine if there are any water licences within that goes with the land you want to buy. Assuming these kinds of water rights and failing to research can lead to serious repercussions.
• Riparian Rights
It is the water right that allows for water use for domestic and stock purposes if the land on which the water has adjoined a watercourse. For example, a river, creek or lake.
Understanding The Limits Of Basic Water Rights
Regarding the extent to which water rights can extend, the government comes in to put some regulations. For instance, when you need water from any natural stream like a lake or river, you won’t need government approval to get it. You can use water from these streams for the following purposes;
- To water travelling stocks and no pumps or construction facilities used to fetch it.
- To aid in personal use, like cooking, drinking or watering a kitchen garden. It only applies if you don’t use pumps to get the water.
- To use for camping activities and only if not using pumps to get the water.
- In case of an emergency, like fighting a fire that could harm people or destroy properties.
However, when you need water from constructed water bodies like dams holding surface or groundwater, you will have to get government approval, except on some special occasions.
It’s vital to note that these basic water rights are viable to limitations which could be by a notice of moratorium during a water shortage or water supply emergency. Likewise, its use could also be restricted when the water body is polluted.
Whether you are a long-term water trader or a customer looking to buy water entitlements, it’s vital to understand how water rights work; this will guide you on to what you can get and what you can’t and the regulations that come with it. Then, if you still need to understand more, you can get in touch with Australia’s top water specialists or water-dreading experts.