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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 particularly 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 department's business centre in the relevant water resource plan area.

Current unallocated water releases

The department has now commenced a process to release unallocated water in the below water resource plan areas. Further details about the processes can be found in the Terms of Sale.

Plan area Process Volume available (ML) Terms of Sale document Closing date
GulfCompetitive tender264550Release of unallocated water in the Gulf Terms of Sale (PDF, 587.1KB)29 January 2016
Great Artesian Basin Competitive tender 18200 Release of unallocated water in the Great Artesian Basin Terms of Sale (PDF, 1.9MB)11 December 2015

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

The table below show key data about release processes that have occurred previously and which have been completed. Note that in some areas only parts of the plan area have had unallocated general reserve water released.

Plan area Release date Water type Volume released (ML) Volume granted (ML) Summary report
Baffle Creek 21 Jun 2013 Surface water 11,600 633* Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 2.1MB)
Great Artesian Basin 30 May 2013 Surface water 7,200# 785 Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 1.3MB)
Gulf -Flinders & Gilbert 22 Nov 2013 Surface water 95,000 94,220 Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 2.1MB)
Whitsunday 18 Jun 2014 Surface water 28,500 0 Report summarising the outcomes (PDF, 904.7KB)

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

  • The Volume released 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 water 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 November 2015

The Department of Natural Resources and Mines is an economic development agency that enables the productive and responsible use of our natural resources – water, land, mineral and energy resources – to generate wealth and prosperity for current and future generations of Queenslanders.

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Department of Natural Resources and Mines
61 Mary Street, Brisbane, Queensland 4000
13 QGOV (13 74 68) business hours
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