Water allocation plans

Water Allocation Plans in the South East region:

What is a Water Allocation Plan?

A Water Allocation Plan (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 are Water Allocation Plans 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 Water Allocation Plan 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.

There are six stages in the development of a WAP:
  1. A concept statement is developed that outlines the proposed content of the WAP. 
  2. The community is given opportunities to help make decisions about the content of the concept statement. 
  3. Based on the decisions made about the concept statement, a draft WAP is prepared. 
  4. The community is again part of the decision making regarding the draft WAP.
  5. Based on the decisions made about the draft WAP, a final WAP is developed that is submitted to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation for consideration. 
  6. The adopted WAP is reviewed within five years to ensure it is still meeting the needs of the environment and the community.

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 permits and licences for WAPs in the South East region.

How is our water resource going?

Each year DEWNR produce Water Resource status reports for our region. You can read these reports and learn about the condition and trends of our water resources. These reports are vital for helping to manage our water sustainably and ensure our policy and plans are as accurate as possible.


Amalgamate your water licenses

In an attempt to simplify the management of water licenses the Department is looking at opportunities to amalgamate water licenses where they are on the same land parcels, or all licenced parcels are within 162Km circle. They must be for the same purpose, we cannot amalgamate an irrigation and an industrial licence or an irrigation and a holding or forestry licence.

The amalgamation will be done at no cost to you until 31 March 2016. After 31 March 2016 any amalgamation will be at the normal transfer fee, currently $694 per licence.

Download the form here.


Volumetric Licences : Your responsibilities

Download the fact sheet here