What is a water licence?

A water licence authorises the use of water within a specific prescribed area, and in some areas, details conditions related to the licence.

For holders of ‘unbundled’ water rights, such as those who have water access entitlement shares for the River Murray, ownership of shares is endorsed on the water licence. The water licence defines:

  • number of unit shares
  • the consumptive pool to which the shares relate
  • class of entitlement.

How do I get a water licence?

The department issues water licences on behalf of the Minister for Environment and Water

When a water resource is prescribed, existing water users can apply for a water licence and be granted a volume of water based on an assessment of their historical or anticipated needs. Licensing stages vary for different prescribed water resources and some water resources may have unallocated water available for future allocation. For specific information about the water licensing process in your region contact your local Landscape Board.

If the licensing process in your area is complete and no unallocated water remains, you may acquire a water licence or allocation via the water market by engaging in water trade.

Transfers of water licences or allocations are subject to rules under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019 and the relevant Water Allocation Plan that the water right relates to.

Where can I find out more about my water licence?

You can access information about your water licence, permit, allocation or approval in South Australia’s Water Register, which is publicly accessible here.

What is a water account?

In South Australia, every licence holder has a water account that is assigned a unique number. Water account numbers begin with “A-“, followed by a 6-digit number. A water account operates similarly to a bank account, but instead of managing money, it manages water allocation. This account specifies how much water you have available for use or trade during the current water year, detailing the sources of your water allocation.

The balance of your water account changes as you use water from the river, dam or aquifer, and these changes are recorded in the mywater system. Meter readings and approved trades update the account balance.

For example, water accounts can be credited with allocations from various sources, such as:

  • Annual allocations under a water access entitlement share.
  • Transfers of water allocation.
  • Carryover allocations.

Each source of water allocation is separately identified. New allocations from the same source, such as those resulting from the Minister's regular improvements to the opening (1 July) water allocation, are also specified in the account.

Debits to a water account occur when water is used or transferred out. Water use is determined by:

  • Meter readings for water use, submitted to the department.
  • Transfers of water allocation.

Water users with a mywater login can check their balances at any time for each of their water licences. It's crucial to ensure that your water account remains in credit, which can be achieved by understanding your entitlement and allocation and by regularly submitting meter readings.

To learn more about how a mywater login provides an easy way to monitor your water account balance, please head here.

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