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How is water allocated to licence holders?

A person who holds a water licence is entitled to receive a volume of water allocation.

A water allocation is the amount of water actually available for use or trade in a given water use year (for example, the volume that may be taken from a specific well, dam or watercourse).

It is important to note that having a water licence does not guarantee the ability to physically access the full volume of allocation every year. Availability of water from year to year will be influenced by climate, water movement and other demands.

In the South Australian River Murray Prescribed Watercourse, the volume of water that is to be made available from a consumptive pool for allocation during a specified period is determined by water allocation announcements made by the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation. The volume available depends on the conditions during the year e.g. in a dry year an allocation may be less than 100% of the volume of a water access entitlement.

Once the Minister has made a water allocation announcement, and the details of the announcement have been published in the South Australian Government Gazette, the water account of each relevant water access entitlement holder is credited with a volume of water allocation. The volume credited is equivalent to the number of unit shares that are held on entitlement, multiplied by the value of each unit share, multiplied by the announced allocation percentage.

For example, consider a water access entitlement holder who holds 1,000 Class 3a (irrigation) shares, and each share is equivalent to 1 kilolitre (kL) at 100 per cent allocation. The Minister announces an opening water allocation of 80% or 0.8 kL per share. The entitlement holder’s water account would be credited with 1,000*0.8 kL = 800 kL (0.8 ML).

Generally in other prescribed water resources, water licence holders receive 100% of their entitlement each water year however in some circumstances licences, allocations and conditions may be varied by the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation.

The manner in which water is allocated in a prescribed water resource is also governed by principles set out in the relevant water allocation plan.

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