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Notices to restrict or authorise water

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Ministerial notices to authorise or restrict water use

The Minister for Environment and Water has the ability to make certain water management decisions in relation to taking or restricting water use at their own discretion. Download a summary of statewide and regional water notices of authorisation or prohibition. Further information regarding these decisions is outlined below.

Ministerial notices of authorisation

These notices may only be applied to prescribed water resources.

In prescribed water resources areas, a person must not take water unless they have a water allocation or authorisation. Within these areas, water allocation plans include the rules for making decisions on whether to grant or refuse a water allocation. Outside of this licensing framework, the Minister also has the ability to authorise the taking of water from a prescribed water resource for a particular purpose, under section 105 of the Landscape South Australia Act 2019, which replaced section 128 of the Natural Resources Management Act 2004.

These authorisations are only granted in limited circumstances and where the authorisation aligns with the objects of the Landscape South Australia Act 2019. This is done by a notice published in the South Australian Government Gazette. Such an authorisation may apply generally throughout the state or in relation to a particular prescribed watercourse or lake, prescribed well, or surface water prescribed area (including stormwater infrastructure).

A section 105 authorisation is subject to conditions that the Minister sees fit to apply, and which are specified in the notice. The authorisation is not a licence, entitlement or allocation and does not provide the recipient with a property right.

The principles and policies of water allocation plans or conditions on a water licence or other water authorisation may be overridden by a notice of authorisation.

Notices of prohibition or restriction

These notices may be applied to any water resource, whether prescribed or not.

From time to time, it is necessary to place temporary restrictions on access to water. Particularly in times of low rainfall, notices of prohibition or restriction allow the Minister or the department to quickly protect a diminishing or low quality water resource. These notices are issued pursuant to section 109 of the Landscape South Australia Act, which replaced section 132 of the Natural Resources Management Act.

A notice of prohibition or restriction is a short term instrument used to control the taking of water. The Minister or the department may issue a notice if the rate at which water is taken from a particular resource affects the quantity or quality of water to the point that demand is no longer met or there is a risk that there will not be sufficient supply to meet future demand. The needs of ecosystems are also taken into consideration.

Water Allocation Announcements

It should be noted that in prescribed water resource areas that have an ‘unbundled’ water licensing system ‘allocation determinations’ can also occur annually, or at more frequent intervals (An unbundled water licensing system is where water access entitlements are provided as ‘unit shares’ in the available water resource or consumptive pool – currently only in the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse and the Southern Basins and Musgrave Prescribed Wells Area).

These allocation determinations occur under section 121 of the Act and may result in allocations being temporarily reduced in response to resource availability (i.e. in response to drought conditions). These determinations are published in the South Australian Government Gazette, and/or announced through the media as an allocation announcement.

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