Water planning and management charges in Queensland
The Queensland Government undertakes a number of water planning and management activities to manage the state’s water resources sustainably and to ensure adequate water supplies for future generations.
To cover some of the costs of these activities, water users in Queensland are subject to the following water planning and management charges (water charges):
- water-related application and administrative fees in relation to water management
- water licence fee
- water harvesting and groundwater charges
- meter service charges.
Details of the water charges are below.
Read more about water planning and management activities.
Water-related application and administrative fees
Fees are charged for:
- applications relating to land and water management plans
- applications relating to interim water allocations and water allocation and water licence dealings
- applications for water bore driller’s licences
- testing and reading water meters
- development applications relating to:
- operational work for the taking or interfering with water
- operational work in a drainage and embankment.
These fees and charges are payable to the Department of Environment and Resource Management (the department) on application by all entitlement holders in Queensland. A full list of these charges can be found in schedule 16 of the Water Regulation 2002 (PDF)*.
Water licence fee
All Queensland unsupplemented water licence holders are required to pay an annual fee of $64.55 to the department except for water licences to:
- take supplemented water only
- take water for stock or domestic purposes (other than underground water for stock and domestic purposes from the Great Artesian Basin).
The water licence fee can also be found in schedule 16 of the Water Regulation 2002 (PDF)*.
This fee is no longer paid once a water licence is converted to a water allocation.
Charges in water management areas
Prior to a water management area being declared, the department undertakes consultation with water entitlement holders, including consultation about charges. Once the area is declared, the water resource is more actively managed and water use regulated.
Holders of unsupplemented (unregulated) water entitlements in declared water management areas generally pay water harvesting charges to the department. These are calculated on the amount of water taken. There are no charges if water is not taken.
Holders of unsupplemented water entitlements in declared groundwater management areas pay groundwater charges. Charging arrangements are determined separately for each area, but entitlement holders generally pay either:
- a part A charge (applied to the entitlement volume) and a part B charge (applied to water taken)
- an annual charge per meter.
These water users are billed annually at the end of the water year. Charges that apply in water management areas can be found in schedule 14 of the Water Regulation 2002 (PDF)* and on the water use including harvesting page.
Meter service charges
The department is progressively installing meters in catchments where water resource plans and resource operations plans are developed and implemented and in other areas that are under stress or that require closer management.
The department’s metering program mainly applies to users who draw water direct from streams and declared groundwater areas that are not supplemented by infrastructure such as dams or weirs managed by water service providers. Prior to meters being installed, the department undertakes extensive consultation with water users and also consultation at critical stages in the rollout process about the program, how it affects them, their obligations and what they are required to do. Where considered beneficial, the department also holds community information sessions to explain the metering process.
The department will supply and install the meter, read and maintain the meter and recover the costs of this service from the water user over time through an annual fee, known as a metering service charge.
The first annual charge will be issued by the department shortly after the completion of the rollout of meters within an area and will continue annually as long as an entitlement holder has a meter fitted to their works.
The metering service charge comprises two components:
- a fixed charge based on the costs of supplying and installing the meter
- a variable charge based on the ongoing operational costs of reading and maintaining the meter.
Water users will have the option of paying both components annually, or the fixed charge component in full as a one-off payment, with the ongoing operational costs as an annual charge.
The metering service charge is calculated for each meter type and size within an area so that entitlement holders who have the same meter type and size pay the same charge, although some variations in the charge may result depending on specific user installation requirements.
Normally, final charges are available when the rollout of meters in an area is complete. However, the department can provide indicative charges to water users throughout the rollout process.
Where a water user applies to the department to remove the meter because they no longer intend to take water under their entitlement, a metering exit charge will apply to remove the meter.
Waiving fees due to hardship
The Minister for Finance, Natural Resources and The Arts may decide to partly or completely waive a fee or charge in the Water Regulation 2002 if the minister is satisfied the person is suffering hardship because of the effects of drought, flood, fire or another natural disaster or because of economic recession.
Details regarding who determines the fees and charges are covered in the Water Act 2000. Generally the Queensland Government undertakes the necessary policy work and consultation with the public and stakeholders before a charge or fee is to be introduced or a significant change is made to a charge. The government then decides on the charge and the Governor in Council approves the introduction of the charge through legislation. Consistent with the department’s Financial Management Practice Manual, the department regularly reviews the prices charged for goods and services.
The fees and charges are listed in the Water Regulation 2002. The department bills entitlement holders for water harvesting and groundwater charges (schedule 14 charges), the water licence fee (in schedule 16) and meter service charges annually (schedule 15A). An entitlement holder can pay this bill at the regional offices (link to regional offices), via cheque, credit card or BPAY. Other water related application and administrative fees in relation to water management found in Schedule 16 of the Water Regulation 2002 are payable on application to the department.
Schedule 14 and 16 fees and charges are increased each year on 1 August 2011 in line with the consumer price index (CPI). Under the Queensland Regulatory Assessment Statement (RAS) System Guidelines a regulation which proposes variations to fees and charges in line with a government-endorsed indexation factor (for example CPI) is exempt from the system. This means that the department is not required to consult on the charges that are increased in line with CPI each year.
The meter service charges are not increased by CPI but are based on the costs of installation and the tender process involved in maintaining and reading meters. Metered entitlement holders are contacted directly when charges change.
In the Murray–Darling Basin, the department releases a public notice to notify users of new charges and when they change. The department released a public notice on 29 July 2011 to advise of 2011-12 water planning and management charges. Link to notice (PDF, 82K)*
The fees and charges are levied to meet some of the costs of ensuring that water planning, allocation and management activities are effective in securing sustainable water allocations and environmental flows. Read more about the department’s water planning and management activities.
Generally, water charges (schedule 14 and 16) recover only a small proportion of the total water planning and management costs incurred by the department. As stated above, meter service charges cover the costs to the department to supply and install the meter and other ongoing operational costs of reading and maintaining the meter.
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Last updated 24 February 2012