Water allocation plan

The SA Arid Lands region has one water allocation plan (WAP) for the Far North Prescribed Wells Area. This plan provides responsible, fair and equitable water allocations for users of groundwater in this area while maintaining the health of our natural resources and ecosystems.  To assist in the interpretation and understanding of the Far North Prescribed Wells Area WAP an explanatory document has been produced. 

Review of Water Allocation Plan - 2017/18

 Groundwater users and others with an interest in the management of South Australia’s portion of the Great Artesian Basin will have an opportunity to contribute to a statutory review of the Far North Prescribed Wells Area Water Allocation Plan (WAP) in 2018.  Adopted in 2009, the revised draft will be developed in response to community and stakeholder feedback and account for new scientific knowledge about the Great Artesian Basin function and increasing industry demands on the resource.

The first of three stages of consultation on the revised Water Allocation Plan is underway with various stakeholders notified about the plan’s review and provided with information and a survey to gather opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of the existing plan. 

The initial consultation phase also includes a meeting of Traditional Owners in Port Augusta in November 2017 and meetings with the Board’s two district groups included in the Far North Prescribed Wells Area: the Marla Oodnadatta District and the Marree Innamincka District.

Specific issues and policy positions will be discussed through a series of discussion papers and focus group meetings in the second stage of consultation in 2018.  The final phase will be the statutory consultation on the draft plan, prior to draft plan being presented to the Minister for consideration and adoption by July 2019.

For information about the review contact Manager Sustainable Water Use, David Leek, at david.leek@sa.gov.au

What is a WAP?

A WAP is a legal document that sets out the rules for managing the take and use of prescribed water resources to ensure resource sustainability. It is developed with the community, industry and key stakeholders for each water resource identified as being significant, or ‘prescribed’ under the Natural Resources Act 2004. A WAP ensures that the needs of the environment are taken into account when determining how much water is made available for consumptive purposes (licensed and non licensed). It sets the amount of water that will be available, how that water may be allocated to users, and the types of activities that are permitted with that water. Once a WAP is in place, water users can apply for a licence, transfer water between users as well as a range of other activities subject to the rules and limits of the WAP.

Why is a WAP important?

Water is a precious resource. There is a limit to how much is available for use on an ongoing basis, and so it is important to provide certainty to current and future users of water, particularly to those whose livelihoods depend on it. A WAP provides that certainty. WAPs give consideration to the environment, social and economical needs, and seek to ensure long term sustainability and security.

What is the WAP process?

1. Prescription of a water resource

Important water resources in South Australia are protected and managed by being ‘prescribed’ under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004. Prescription means that the water resource must be sustainably managed to provide security for all water users, now and into the future.

2. Development of a WAP

For each prescribed water resource, a WAP must be developed by the relevant regional NRM board. A WAP must meet the needs of the environment and the community. To ensure this, scientific investigations of the water resource and extensive community engagement are included in the development of a WAP.

3. Implementation of a WAP: water allocation through licences and permits

Once the WAP is adopted by the Minister it is implemented. Based on the rules set out in the WAP, water is allocated to existing and new users. Water users apply for a licence, which sets out their allocation and the conditions under which they can take and use water.

Applying for a permit or licence

Find out about licences and permits for WAPs in the SA Arid Lands region.