The Minister may make further controlled allocation orders. Shares and temporary allocation can also be bought through the water trading market from existing licence holders.
Minimum prices per share are set to encourage water use efficiency and the maximum economic benefit for the water. They also ensure that existing water markets are not disrupted. The minimum price is set based on prices paid in other similar groundwater sources through previous controlled allocations, water trading and other current market indicators. The registration of interest process will determine the final price to be paid.
The aquifer access licence will only allow water to be taken from the groundwater source in which you successfully acquired shares and that groundwater source will be specified on your licence. However, groundwater made available through the October 2022 controlled allocation order cannot be taken from these management zones within the water source(s):
- Lachlan Fold Belt Murray-Darling Basin (Mudgee) Management Zone in the Lachlan Fold Belt Murray-Darling Basin Groundwater Source.
- Spring Ridge Management Zone in the Gunnedah-Oxley Basin Murray-Darling Basin Groundwater Source.
All groundwater sources across NSW are managed under a water sharing plan and the requirements of the Water Management Act 2000 apply (unless exempt). Water sharing plans set rules and mandatory conditions that are specific to each groundwater source for activities that involve groundwater extraction and apply to these aquifer access licences in the same way they apply to any other aquifer access licence in the groundwater source.
Water sharing plans set limits on water extraction (the long term average annual extraction limit) for all water in a water source, including saline or contaminated water. These legally binding plans include rules for water trading, water accounts and for how water is shared by different users and the environment. The plans also set out the mandatory approval conditions that apply to water supply work approvals (see FAQ 15), including rules to minimise impacts on other groundwater users, dependent ecosystems, water quality and groundwater sources.
The release of unassigned groundwater under the October 2022 controlled allocation order will not result in any long term average annual extraction limits in water sharing plans being exceeded.
You can find out more about water sharing plans at how water sharing plans work.
In most cases you will need to hold one or more approvals under the Water Management Act 2000 before you can use a water supply work to take water from the groundwater source. Before you take water, you will need to apply to link your water access licence to an approval. This is done by applying for a dealing to amend your water access licence under section 71W of the Act to nominate a specified water supply work or extraction point under your licence. This application is done through WaterNSW or the Department of Planning and Environment.
Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, you may be exempt from the need to hold an approval under the Water Management Act 2000 for State significant development authorised by a development consent or for a State significant infrastructure approved by the Minister for Planning (or delegate).
Where you are required to hold an approval to take water, Government will undertake an impact assessment as part of the application process. This involves assessing the likely impacts on the groundwater source, connected water sources, the users of these water sources and dependent ecosystems.
An approval application may be refused, or an extraction limit applied at a volume that is less than what you may want to take. If you take more water under your licence than the amount allowed by the approval, you may be in breach of the Water Management Act 2000.
Contact WaterNSW (1300 662 077) for more information about approvals and dealings under the Water Management Act 2000.
Contact the Department of Planning and Environment (1300 305 695) for more information about the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
Water is credited to licence accounts at the start of each new water year (1 July) on the basis of the available water determination. Generally this is 1 megalitre per share (also known as 100% allocation) unless it must be reduced for some reason, such as severe water shortage.
For licences and shares granted under a controlled allocation process part-way through a water year, the shares are credited on a pro-rata basis, in accordance with section 85 (4) of the Water Management Act 2000. For example, if you successfully bid for 100 shares in a groundwater source and your licence is granted at the end of December (halfway through the water year) then your account will be credited with half the year’s allocation, that is 50 megalitres. The full 100 megalitres will be allocated to your water account at the start of the new water year (1 July) and again each subsequent water year.
You can start taking groundwater up to the amount of volume in your water account once you have registered your licence with NSW Land Registry Services (see FAQ 7 on registering your new licence) and have obtained the required approval(s) (see FAQ 15 on approvals to take and use water).
If this happens, you may be able to sell some or all of your shares on the water market. This is known as permanent trade. Alternatively you can sell some or all of your account water (allocation), which is known as temporary trade (see FAQ 8 about trading your licence).
Generally no. Groundwater is not normally combined with, or stored, in surface water infrastructure and water licences cannot be combined if they are different categories.
Contact WaterNSW (1300 662 077) to discuss your options.
No. All groundwater systems that are highly connected to surface water are fully committed and do not have unassigned water. Under this order, shares are only being released from groundwater sources that are not fully committed or highly connected to surface water.
The controlled allocation order remains in effect until it is repealed by the Minister (or delegate). We expect the order to be repealed once the controlled allocation process is complete.