Planning Process

Under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (the Act), NRM Boards must prepare a Water Allocation Plan (WAP) for each prescribed resource in their region, and review these plans within five years of adoption.

Water allocation plans ensure there is an equitable balance of water between environmental, social and economic needs, while considering the long-term integrity of the water resource.

The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources leads monitoring programs to collect data on the state and condition of water resources at a state level and Natural Resources Management Boards supplement these networks at a regional and local level. Significant water users, such as SA Water and irrigators, also contribute data. This data is used to develop water allocation plans.

There are 20 existing Water Allocation Plans in South Australia and new plans are being developed.

The current Water Allocation Planning process is under review with a view to developing a more adaptable and flexible management model.

The Goyder Institute for Water Research has been established to enhance our capacity to develop science based policy solutions to underpin the sustainable development of the State’s water resources. Working together, the Department and the Institute will deliver water policy outcomes through high quality research and science and solve our key water management issues.

Water Allocation Plans

Once a resource has been prescribed, a water allocation plan is developed by the relevant natural resources management (NRM) board in consultation with the community, in order to sustainably manage the resource. There are eight natural resource management regions in South Australia.

A water allocation plan is a legally enforceable plan that sets the sustainable water management regime for each prescribed water resource in the region. A water allocation plan explains how water is allocated to entitlement holders, (known as licensed water users) and how these entitlements or allocations can be traded. It contains policies and principles for determining the consumptive pool, water access entitlement shares and water allocations against environmental water requirements and provisions. It contains policies for setting conditions on approvals for the take and use of that water from a particular location in a particular way. A water allocation plan also details activities that affect water that require a permit such as drilling a bore or constructing a dam.