Water allocation plans

To see the specific water allocations plans in your area, go to the website of your natural resources region.

A water allocation plan (WAP) is a legal document that sets out the rules for managing the take and use of prescribed water resources (1.12mb pdf) 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 Management 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 and a range of other activities subject to the rules and limits of the WAP.

Why are WAPs 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 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.

2. Development of a WAP

For each prescribed water resource, a WAP must be developed by the relevant regional Natural Resources Management 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 10 years to ensure it is still meeting the needs of the environment and the community.

3. Implementation of a WAP: licences and permits

Once the WAP is adopted by the Minister, it is implemented by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR). DEWNR manages the allocation of the water resource to existing and new users in accordance with the rules set out in the WAP. 

To be allocated water, users apply for a licence, which sets out their allocation and the conditions under which they can take water. Those wanting to carry out activities on a water body may need to apply for a permit. 

See water licences and permits for more information or go to water licence and permit forms to apply.