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Unallocated water

Unallocated water is reserved under water planning instruments and can be made available for future consumptive use without compromising the security of existing users or the environmental values within a catchment.

Types of unallocated water include:

  • general reserve: water that may be granted for any purpose            
  • strategic or state reserve: water that may be granted for projects that the chief executive considers are of regional significance for the plan area or have been declared to be coordinated projects under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971
  • strategic infrastructure: water that may be granted to facilitate the development of particular water infrastructure projects (e.g. new dams) in the relevant water plan        
  • indigenous reserve: water that may be granted for projects that advance the social and economic aspirations of indigenous people.  

For information on unallocated water in your area, contact the business centre in the relevant water plan area.

Current unallocated water releases

Fitzroy Basin

We have commenced a process to release unallocated water in subcatchment areas in the Fitzroy Basin. The release is via a competitive process, with tenders closing 23 February 2017.

An addendum to the terms of sale (PDF, 60.0KB) is also provided (and now included in the above terms of sale) following changes on 6 December 2016 to the Water Act 2000 and Water Regulation 2016. This addendum outlines changes to the relevant legislative references,  as the terms of sale was published prior to these changes commencing.


We are preparing offers to those who are next in line through the current Gulf unallocated water process. We will contact tenderers to advise them of the outcome of this process.

Note that the process is not yet finalised, and due to the confidential nature of the tender process, outcomes will only be disclosed once finalised.

Fixed price process

We are progressing a fixed price sale process in the Whitsunday Water Resource Plan area. Only those who applied in the 2014 tender process were eligible to apply. The terms of sale were provided to eligible candidates, and applications closed on 26 February 2016.

We are assessing applications received for this fixed price unallocated water release process.

Future releases will be considered by the chief executive after the conclusion of the closed fixed price process.

Recently completed unallocated water release

Great Artesian Basin

We recently made offers of water licences to successful tenderers of Great Artesian Basin unallocated water. Water licences have now been granted to those who accepted their offer.

The tender assessment report (PDF, 1.3MB) summarises the outcomes of the release.

Water for Queensland map

The water for Queensland map displays the unallocated water general reserve volumes of surface and sub-artesian water that is available in each catchment or management area across Queensland. The map also shows the unallocated water general reserve volumes of artesian water available in management areas of the Great Artesian Basin.

Previous unallocated general reserve water releases

This table shows key data about release processes that have occurred previously and which have been completed. In some areas only parts of the plan area have had unallocated general reserve water released.

Plan area             Release date             Water type             Volume available for release (ML)             Volume granted (ML)             Summary report            
Great Artesian Basin 22 Oct 2015 Groundwater 18,200 1780^ Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 1.3MB)
Whitsunday 18 Jun 2014Surface water and groundwater28,5000Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 904.7KB)
Great Artesian Basin30 May 2013Groundwater7,200#785Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 1.3MB)
Baffle Creek 21 Jun 2013 Surface water 11,600 633* Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 2.1MB)
Gulf -Flinders & Gilbert 22 Nov 2013 Surface water 95,000 94,220 Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 2.1MB)

#release occurred in the Surat, Surat East and Surat North management areas.
*33ML was granted during the tender process with a further 600ML granted following the completion of the tender process.
^release occurred in 27 of the 32 management areas.

  • The Volume available for release column refers to the amount of volume released during that process. For whole of catchment releases, such as Whitsunday, this figure represents the total amount of unallocated water available for release as stated in the relevant plan. For releases in sub-catchment areas this figure only represents the total available in those sub-catchment areas, as stated in the relevant water plan.
  • The Volume granted column refers to the amount of water granted during the release. This can be less than the volume available if there is a lack of sufficient interest or if applicants were unable to meet the criteria for purchase of the water.


Last updated: 6 January 2017

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