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What is the Water Register?

South Australia’s Water Register records relevant information about water licences, water access entitlements and forest water licences.

As the approval authority for transactions about water rights, the DEW Water Register needs to record:

  • Personal information about the holders of water rights (e.g. name and contact details);
  • Relevant water resource that the water right(s) relates to;
  • Date of issue and/or expiry of the water right(s);
  • Details of dealings (e.g. date of variation, transfer, surrender or cancellation);
  • Details of security interests (record of registration, name of security interest beneficiary, nature of the security interest and record of any variation, transfer, surrender or cancellation)

This ensures there are accurate and up-to-date records about ownership and interests in water rights, and a clear record of transactions relating to them.

Accessing data from the Water Register

Some of the data held on the Water Register is accessible by the public from the Water Licence & Permit Register and Water Trading in South Australia Register. In addition, the WaterConnect website provides information on wells across the State.

However, some information is considered sensitive or personal in nature and is therefore unable to be released to the public or made publicly available. Sensitive or personal information can include licence holder name and contact details, meter information, the location of take/water sources, land parcels and allocation volumes.

A requirement of the Murray-Darling Basin Compliance Compact (an agreement between relevant jurisdictions in the Basin and the Australian Government) is to improve transparency in relation to information about water take entitlements or justify any exemptions. A document to fulfil this requirement has been developed and can be found here.

What changes to the Water Register are proposed?

A number of regulatory and operational business improvements to the Water Register have been scoped following a comprehensive review of the information, features and protections offered by other register systems and consultation with stakeholders in 2018 and 2019.

Collectively, these are referred to as ‘enhancements’ to the Water Register.

Improved water registry arrangements are intended to benefit water users and businesses by facilitating secure efficient trade and minimising transaction costs. They are also intended to provide investment certainty and public confidence in water assets by enabling people to register their ownership and interests, and providing access to accurate reliable information needed to inform decision-making.

Broadly, the changes proposed aim to transform South Australia’s current Water Register from a record-keeping system to one more closely aligned with a title-based registration system and will:

  • provide more robust protections for commercial and property ownership and interests in water licences (such as security interests and caveats);
  • support a secure and efficient environment to trade valuable entitlements including through strengthened verification arrangements to safeguard against fraud and invalid transactions;
  • improve the reliability of registered information and access to information held on the register to inform business and trade decisions;
  • provide clear and transparent regulatory arrangements for register administration.

Similar arrangements have been successfully operational in other states for many years in line with state commitments made under the National Water Initiative.

Transitional arrangements for security interests

Prior to the new Water Register regulations being made and the launch of the new Water Register, the department will continue to administratively note security interests in water licences on the water register. If you want to note or remove an interest on the department’s water register you must submit an application accompanied by payment of the relevant application fee.

To use a water licence as security (collateral) for a loan prior to the regulations being made and the launch of the new water register, a bill of sale over a water licences can continue to be registered on the Bills of Sale register and dealt with under the Bills of Sale Act 1886 until the new water register is launched. For more information in relation to registering Bills of Sale please contact Land Services SA.

Existing interests noted on the current Water Register or registered on the Bills of Sale register and confirmed to be current when the new water register is launched, will be transitioned to the new Water Register.

Public access to certain information on the register is available at the following links:

Interstate registers:

 Many water brokers also list recent sale prices on their websites and have good knowledge of current prices and price history information.

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