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Unbundling water rights

In 2009, amendments were made to the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 to meet requirements of the National Water Initiative to separate or ‘unbundle’ water rights and make the transfer of water rights easier.

The term unbundling refers to water related rights being separated from each other. Unbundled rights are granted in separate documents and include:

  • Water access entitlement (water licence): a right to a specified share of available water
  • Water allocation: a right to take a specified volume of water in a specified period
  • Water resource works approval: a right to construct, operate and maintain infrastructure to take water
  • Site use approval: a right to use water at a particular location

Water rights relating to the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse and the Southern Basins and Musgrave Prescribed Wells Area have been unbundled.

Transitional arrangements enable the pre-2009 ‘bundled’ licensing system to continue to operate and, as a consequence, the licensing arrangements for all other water allocation plans currently continue to operate “bundled” water licensing regimes.

This means that the licence holder’s rights for taking and use of water are authorised in one licence.

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