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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. The Plan is the culmination of extensive community consultation, planning and research that has been undertaken since the 2009 Plan was adopted. The WAP has recently been updated, a Guide has also been developed to help you to understand your rights and responsibilities under the Plan, noting the guide does not replace the Plan and should be read in conjunction with the Plan.

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. A WAP is developed with the community, industry and key stakeholders for each water resource identified as being significant, or ‘prescribed’ under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019 (the Act). A WAP ensures that the needs of the environment are considered 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 license, 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 provide water to meet environmental demands, provide for social and economic needs, and seek to ensure long term sustainability of the resource and security for existing users..

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 Act. Prescription means that the water resource must be sustainably managed to provide security for all water users, now and into the future. Prescription occurs when regulatory controls are required to manage an areas water resources and is done in consultation with the community.

2. Development of a WAP or Review of a WAP

For each prescribed water resource, a WAP must be developed by the relevant regional landscape 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.

Extensive community consultation is undertaken in the development and drafting of a WAP and community feedback is used to inform the final WAP that is submitted to the Minister for consideration.

Once adopted a WAP is a statutory document that must be comprehensively reviewed at least once every 10 years. The relevant landscape board is responsible for the review or amendment of the WAP, ensuring that a review of the principles in the plan, the success of the plan in achieving its outcomes, an assessment of the continued appropriateness of the plan or need for amendment and to assess or address any other matters prescribed by regulations.

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

Related information

Link to further information here