In Queensland, a number of groundwater areas have been established to protect underground water resources These groundwater areas are referred to in various ways under subordinate legislation such as subartesian areas declared under the water regulation, groundwater management areas, management areas, management units or subartesian management areas but can be generically referred to as groundwater areas.
A groundwater area is an area identified in the Water Regulation 2002 (Water Regulation), a water resource plan or a wild river declaration within which management requirements for groundwater exist. An authorisation is required to access groundwater and/or construct works to take groundwater for certain purposes.
Artesian water is water that occurs in an aquifer, which if tapped by a bore, would flow naturally to the surface. The majority of artesian water in Queensland exists within the Great Artesian Basin.
Under the Water Act 2000 and Sustainable Planning Act 2009, both a water licence and a development permit are required to take or interfere with artesian water anywhere in the state.
In the Great Artesian Basin, artesian water and subartesian water connected to artesian water are managed under the Water Resource (Great Artesian Basin) Plan 2006 and the Great Artesian Basin Resource Operations Plan.
Subartesian water is water that occurs naturally in an aquifer, which if tapped by a bore, would not flow naturally to the surface.
An authorisation to take subartesian water is only required in:
- a subartesian area declared under Schedule 11 of the Water Regulation (PDF)*, or
- a groundwater management area established under Schedule 4, Schedule 10, Schedule 14 or Schedule 15A of the Water Regulation, or
- a groundwater management area or subartesian management area established under a water resource plan, or
- a subartesian management area under a wild river declaration.
For subartesian areas declared under the Water Regulation:
- a water licence is required to take or interfere with subartesian water, other than for the purposes specified within column 2 of Schedule 11 of the Water Regulation.
- a development permit under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 is required to construct or install works that take subartesian water, other than works constructed or installed solely for the purposes mentioned within column 3 of Schedule 11 of the Water Regulation.
For groundwater management areas defined under the Water Regulation, the respective groundwater management areas may have provisions in the following sections:
- Schedule 4 of the Water Regulation – defines seasonal water assignment rules that can apply to any water licenses to take subartesian groundwater within this area.
- Schedule 10 of the Water Regulation – defines water sharing rules that can apply to any water licenses to take subartesian groundwater within this area.
- Schedule 14 of the Water Regulation – defines water charges that can apply to any water licenses to take subartesian groundwater within this area.
- Schedule 15A of the Water Regulation – declares authorisations that are considered to be metered entitlements to take subartesian groundwater within a defined area.
Water Resource Plans
For groundwater management areas that are defined in water resource plans, the respective water resource plan defines the area-specific water licensing and development permit requirements. In some plan areas, a water entitlement, usually a water licence, is required to take subartesian groundwater for all uses other than for stock or domestic uses. A development permit is also generally required to construct works that take groundwater other than for stock or domestic purposes.
The area-specific rules for the management and sharing of this subartesian groundwater may be included within a resource operations plan.
Wild Rivers Declaration
A wild rivers declaration under the Wild Rivers Act 2005 may also impact on the ability to access and take groundwater. Information relating to wild rivers declarations can be found on the Wild Rivers website.
Water licensing and development permit requirements
The taking or interfering with groundwater is managed differently across the state depending on the location and type of groundwater. The current requirements for a water licence or development permit can be found in Schedule 11 of the Water Regulation or the relevant water resource plan.
For further information on determining if you are within the boundaries of a groundwater area and require a water licence to access groundwater and/or development permit to construct groundwater works, contact your local departmental business centre.
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Last updated 9 February 2012