Great Artesian Basin
Map of the basin
Water resource plan
- The existing Great Artesian Basin water resource plan was released in March 2006.
- A five year review (PDF, 622.0KB) of the Great Artesian Basin water resource plan was completed in March 2013 to assess whether the plan was fulfilling its objectives, and whether the plan needs to be amended. No changes were made to the water resource plan.
- The Great Artesian Basin water resource plan was amended in November 2014 under the Water Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 to provide for access to unallocated water to support development opportunities in Western Cape York. The amendment will commence early 2015.
- The Department of Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts prepared two assessment reports:
Resource operations plan
- The Great Artesian Basin resource operations plan (PDF, 4.2MB) was finalised in December 2006 and commenced by public notice in February 2007 after a public consultation and review process.
Amendment to streamline the process for release of unallocated water
The Great Artesian Basin resource operations plan was amended on 16 November 2012 to streamline the process for release of unallocated water, as outlined in Chapter 2 of the plan.
Release of unallocated water call for tenders
On 30 May 2013, the chief executive of the Department of Natural Resources and Mines commenced a process to release general reserve unallocated water from three management areas identified in the water resource plan (Great Artesian Basin) 2006. Up to a combined total of 7200 megalitres of unallocated water has been made available from the Surat, Surat East and Surat North management areas.
This tender process has been completed. Water licences have been granted to successful tenderers.
The department has prepared a report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 1.3MB) of the tender process. This report has been reviewed and endorsed by the probity auditor overseeing the tender process.
The spring register
The resource operations plan created a spring register listing the Great Artesian Basin springs that support significant cultural and environmental values. The water resource plan and resource operations plan protects the flow of groundwater to these springs.
The spring register contains information about spring locations, the spring type, the management units that are connected or supplying water to the springs, decisions made about water licences that could impact the flow of water to the springs, and the cumulative spring factor for each spring.
Spring factors are estimates of the change in pressure at a spring resulting from a water licence decision, as established under the resource operations plan. They are determined for new water licences granted from the unallocated water reserves (identified in the Great Artesian Basin Water Resource Plan), and for water licence relocations, amendments, surrenders, and cancellations; and added to the pre-existing cumulative spring factors for each relevant spring in the register.
On commencement of the resource operations plan, all cumulative spring factors were zero. The reason for calculating cumulative spring factors is to monitor the cumulative impact of water licence decisions on spring flows over time. The resource operations plan establishes that no cumulative spring factor can exceed 400 (equivalent to a pressure reduction of 0.4 metres head of water), thus limiting any cumulative impact of water licence decisions on flow to springs.
Tables with information about the spring register have been removed for the purposes of the tender process to release general reserve unallocated water in the Surat, Surat East and Surat North management areas. These tables will be updated and made available after the tender process is complete and licences have been granted.
Water licence relocation
Water licensees in the water resource plan area are able to relocate water by transferring, amending or amalgamating all or part of their water licences. Relocations can occur provided these dealings are consistent with the rules in the resource operations plan regarding protection of entitlements of existing users and flow to springs.
The relocation of a water licence enables a licensee to transfer ownership of the entitlement, permanently trading the water licence from the land to which it is attached, to another parcel(s) of land.
This process differs from the more common form of water trading, whereby water allocations are traded independently of land titles and have their own registrable title.
You can view past reports and historical documents relating to the Great Artesian Basin plans in the library catalogue.
Department of Natural Resources and Mines
PO Box 15216
City East Qld 4002
Phone: (07) 3225 1284
Fax: (07) 3224 8359