Water Allocation Plan for the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse

Consultation has now closed on the Water Allocation Plan for the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse.

The South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management (SAMDB NRM) Board is reviewing all comments provided in submissions and, if required, will make further changes to the Water Allocation Plan. We will keep you updated on the progress of the Water Allocation Plan on this page.

Once the SAMDB NRM Board has finalised the Water Allocation Plan, it will be provided to the Minister for Environment and Conservation for adoption. Until then, the 2017 Water Allocation Plan will apply.

What is changing in the Water Allocation Plan?

Changes have been made to the Water Allocation Plan to make sure it is compliant with Basin Plan requirements and to progress some existing policies in the plan.

The 2017 Water Allocation Plan went a long way towards Basin Plan compliance and further changes are being made to ensure we are fully compliant by June 2019.

The Water Allocation Plan is a legal document that sets out rules for sharing water from the river and aims to:

  • protect the resource for all water users including the environment, now and into the future
  • provide greater certainty for water users

The Water Allocation Plan covers the River Murray downstream from the Victorian border and encompasses Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, portions of Currency Creek, the Finniss, Angas and Bremer Rivers, as can be seen on the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse Map.

You can download the draft Water Allocation Plan here.

How were changes to the Water Allocation Plan developed?

Like the previous update of the Water Allocation Plan, changes were developed by the community-based SAMDB NRM Board in collaboration with the River Murray Advisory Committee (RMAC).

RMAC is a community-based advisory committee that assists the SAMDB NRM Board in water policy development, with representation from business, agriculture, viticulture, horticulture, tourism and environmental conservation.

What has changed and what do I need to know?

The Water Allocation Plan has been updated to incorporate Basin Plan requirements, such as:

  • incorporating Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDLs)
  • identifying Aboriginal objectives and outcomes
  • protecting planned environmental water

A number of other policy changes are also being made including:

  • changes as a result of the salinity zoning policy review
  • introducing an extraction limit for the upper Pike River anabranch
  • updates to the rules regarding pumps on anabranches and backwaters to allow for water level variability
  • improving implementation of Environmental Land Management Allocations
  • minor changes to the private carryover policy
  • minor changes to the water allocation framework

Where can I find out more?

Information sheets are available to explain the changes that have been made and why. A summary of the changes is provided in What is changing in the Water Allocation Plan for the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse.

Fact sheets

Further detail around each of the policy areas that are changing are available here:

Get further information about the Water Resource Plan.

The Basin Plan and Water Resource Planning

The Water Allocation Plan will form part of the South Australian River Murray Water Resource Plan. Water Resource Plans are required to be prepared under the Basin Plan by each Basin state. Water Resource Plans will show how we are sustainably managing the River Murray consistent with Basin Plan requirements.

The Water Resource Plan is a road map of our water management plans, policies and activities.

Changes to the Water Allocation Plan will improve on our existing management arrangements and help to meet water resource planning standards.

The changes being made to meet water resource plan requirements do not alter how people currently take and use water for business. Water user’s obligations are met by complying with the Water Allocation Plan.

The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) is preparing the South Australian River Murray Water Resource Plan. To find out more, visit their website.

The 2017 Water Allocation Plan

The SAMDB NRM Board is currently finalising a new Water Allocation Plan but it is important to know that the existing Water Allocation Plan was adopted in October 2017 and is now in place.

The Water Allocation Plan includes important changes about the way we take and use water from the River Murray.

Find out more about what a WAP is and why they are important.

Find out about permits and licences relating to this WAP.

What changed in the 2017 Water Allocation Plan and what do I need to know?

The changes that have been made to the Water Allocation Plan aim to:

  • provide clarity around how the river is managed in South Australia
  • incorporate learnings from the Millenium Drought
  • reflect changes in science, policy and issues associated with the use of the River Murray.

There are a number of differences in the new Water Allocation Plan that all licence holders should be aware of. These are outlined in the fact sheet Adoption of the Water Allocation Plan for the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse.

Fact sheets

Find out more about

How does this impact my existing licence and approvals?

Importantly, your existing water rights and approvals remain the same. The adoption of the Water Allocation Plan does not impact your ability to use or trade water.

After 1 July 2018 your licence will be reissued to reflect new terminology and other documents like site use approvals and water resource works approvals may be re-issued to ensure they are consistent with the Water Allocation Plan.

Until then, your existing approvals remain valid.

More information

To find out what the changes mean for you:

  • Read the fact sheets
  • Drop into the water licensing office at 2 Wade Street, Berri SA
  • Call the water licensing office on 08 8595 2053
  • Email water licensing on dewnrwaterlicensing@sa.gov.au

Printed copies of the plan are also available for viewing at natural resources centres and local council libraries in the SA Murray-Darling Basin region. 

For information about licensing, metering, or well permits, call us on 8595 2053.

More information