Noora Groundwater Management

Background

The Noora Prescribed Wells Area was proclaimed in 1986 in order to manage groundwater extraction consistently with the Border Groundwater Agreement. The Border Groundwater Agreement establishes arrangements for the cooperative management of groundwater in a zone which extends 20 km either side of the South Australian and Victorian border.

The groundwater resource in the Noora Prescribed Wells Area is very different from that in other prescribed wells areas. The taking and use of groundwater in the  Noora Prescribed Wells Area was limited to one licence holder for the purpose of operating salt interception schemes to protect the River Murray from saline inflows, and approximately 14 stock and domestic wells.

To view a map of the Noora Groundwater Management Area click here

Review of Noora Water Allocation Plan

The Noora Water Allocation Plan was adopted in 2001 and reviewed in 2006.  In 2016 the mandatory ten year review was initiated with the intention to substantially revise the plan. The Noora Water Allocation Plan was reviewed to determine its compliance with legislation and to ensure that: 

  1. the permissible annual volumes (PAV) to be allocated from the aquifers within the Noora Prescribed Wells Area are within the limits of the Groundwater (Border Agreement) Act 1989
  2. the separation of water rights as described in the Natural Resources Management (NRM) Act 2004
  3. all other adjustments are made to ensure the Noora Water Allocation Plan can satisfactorily form part of the SA Murray Region Water Resource Plan and meet Basin Plan (2012) requirements.

This review process indicated that control of the take of water from the Noora Groundwater Management Area was already effectively controlled by the Groundwater (Border Agreement) Act 1989. It also identified that including the groundwater extraction limits from this agreement into the region’s water affecting activity policies could provide a simpler and more efficient instrument for managing the take of groundwater in this area.

Revoking Prescription

A water allocation plan is not considered the best tool for managing water in the Noora management area. Water allocation plans are generally used when there is high demand for a water resource for commercial purposes. In the case of Noora, there is very little demand due to the groundwater being highly saline and  use being limited to a small amount of stock and domestic take.

Changing the manner in which the Noora area is managed provides a consistent approach to managing salt interception schemes, as none of South Australia’s other six salt interception schemes are subject to the requirements of a water allocation plan.

For these reasons, the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation proposed that the proclamation of the Noora Prescribed Wells Area (formerly known as known as the Noora Proclaimed Area) be revoked in accordance with section 125 of the Natural Resources Management (NRM) Act 2004.

This process has now been completed and the Noora Groundwater Management Areas is now managed in accordance with the water affecting activity policies in the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management (SAMDB NRM) Board’s Business and Operational Plan.

The view the water affecting activity policies in the SAMDB NRM Boards Business and Operational Plan (Section 5) click here

Local issues resulting from the use of the Noora disposal basin will continue to be addressed by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) through the operating arrangements for Noora Basin. DEWNR is committed to working with local landholders to ensure impacts are managed.

 

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