What is a water allocation plan?
Water allocation plans are legal documents under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019. They are developed for prescribed water resources, for which a water licence is required in order to take water for commercial and other specific purposes. These plans set out the rules for issuing and managing water licences, as well as other approvals for taking water.
Why do we need the Adelaide Plains Water Allocation Plan?
The Adelaide Plains Water Allocation Plan is necessary to make sure that the groundwater of the Adelaide Plains is managed in a sustainable way. If too much groundwater is taken from an aquifer, or extraction is highly concentrated within a small area, there can be unacceptable effects on groundwater levels and salinity. This can impact negatively on other water users and ecosystems which depend on groundwater.
Will my water licence stay the same?
All existing water licensees will receive new licences after the Plan has been adopted, which will look slightly different to their existing licences. However the volume of water authorised on the licence (the water access entitlement) will be equivalent to the existing allocation.
Can I use groundwater without a licence?
Across the whole of the Adelaide Plains area, groundwater may be taken for drinking and cooking purposes at a rate no more than 100 litres per day without requiring a licence. In addition, in the Central Adelaide and Dry Creek areas, a licence is not needed to take groundwater for stock watering or for domestic purposes such as watering gardens of no bigger than 0.4 ha.
What will be different after the water allocation plan is adopted?
When the final Adelaide Plains Water Allocation Plan has been adopted, licence holders in Central Adelaide and Dry Creek will, for the first time, be able to apply for a new licence, or to amend their existing licence, or for a transfer, subject to the assessment criteria set out in the plan. Check the information sheet ‘Transferring Water Under the draft Adelaide Plains Water Allocation Plan’ and the draft Adelaide Plains Water Allocation Plan for more detail.
For the T1 Northern Adelaide Plains and T2 Northern Adelaide Plains Consumptive Pools, it is proposed to introduce a new ‘safety net’ scheme which can be activated to temporarily reduce allocations in these two high risk zones if groundwater condition deteriorates. A separate information sheet ‘Managing High Risk Areas under the draft Adelaide Plains Water Allocation Plan’ provides more detail on this scheme.
The new water allocation plan will also introduce a set of rules for managing licences related to Managed Aquifer Recharge. More information is provided in the information sheet ‘Managed Aquifer Recharge in the draft Adelaide Plains Water Allocation Plan’.
How are people being consulted?
Consultation is open until 28 November 2021. During this time, anyone can make a written or email submission, or make a phone call to provide comment or to ask a question. In addition, focussed meetings will be held with key stakeholder groups as required. Information may also be made available in other languages to be distributed to key irrigator groups, particularly in the Northern Adelaide Plains, and assistance may be arranged via interpreters.