Water products

Tradeable water rights (water products)

Tradeable water rights can also be referred to as water products. This section provides general information about water rights or products. As water rights are based on State and Territory legislation, please refer to relevant State and Territory agencies for more detailed and current information.

In a water market, water products can be traded with or without land. There are typically three types of tradeable water rights:

  1. Water access right – The right to hold water from a water resource or take water from a water resource (some components within water access rights may not be tradeable).
  2. Water delivery right – The right to have water delivered by an irrigation infrastructure operator.
  3. Irrigation right – The rights to receive water from an irrigation infrastructure operator, which are not water access rights or water delivery rights.

Note: Trades in water delivery rights are not represented in the water market reporting on this website. Trades in irrigation rights are reported in the water market reporting on this website where data has been supplied.

Attributes of water products

The bulk of water products traded in Australia are water access entitlements and water allocations. They are the focus of the reports published on this website.

Individual water products differ in each State and Territory, however they are divided up in a similar manner across jurisdictions. Water products are categorised according to whether they:

  1. are bundled The aggregation of several individual rights into a single right. These might include, but are not limited to, land property title, water access entitlement, water allocations, water use rights, delivery rights, irrigation rights and works approvals.   or unbundled.
  2. come from surface water or groundwater
  3. come from regulated or unregulated water resources
  4. are high or low reliability (NWC 2011 Australian water markets: trends and drivers, 2007–08 to 2009–10).

The diagram below outlines the attributes which can apply to individual water products:

Water product attributes

Adapted from National Water Commission (2011), Australian water markets: trends and drivers, 2007–08 to 2009–10

Water products table

The major water products in each State and Territory are listed below. More information is available on individual water products in the water resource plans for each jurisdiction. See the State/Territory rules page for links to water resource plans.

Nationally equivalent terms for water products
National Term Water access entitlement type (unbundled) Water access entitlement type (bundled) Water allocation Water resource type (surface) Water resource type (ground) Water access entitlement reliability (for unbundled only)
State
NSW

Water access licence
(Water Management Act 2000)

Water licence (Water Act 1912)

Water allocation

Regulated river (Regulated surface water for water licence 1912)

Unregulated river (Unregulated surface water for water licence 1912)

Groundwater

Category

(e.g. high, general, supplementary for regulated; unregulated river, aquifer for groundwater)

Vic Water share

Approval for underground disposal

Bulk entitlement

Private right

Registration licence

Supply by agreement

Take and Use licence

Water allowance

Water allocation

Drainage diversion

Regulated surface water

Unregulated surface water
(waterway, spring or run-off)

Groundwater

Managed aquifer recharge (MAR)

Reliability class for unbundled (high, low, spill) plus other bundled classes

Qld

Water allocation

Interim water allocation

Water licence

Seasonal water assignment

Supplemented surface water

Unsupplemented surface water

Supplemented groundwater

Unsupplemented groundwater

Priority group for supplemented (e.g. high, high A1, high A2, high A, high B, medium, medium A) plus other unsupplemented classes

SA

Water access entitlement

Water allocation (taking and holding)

Water allocation

Prescribed/non-prescribed surface water

Prescribed/non-prescribed watercourse water

Prescribed/non-prescribed underground water Classes 1–9 for River Murray
WA

N/A

Water licence

Water allocation

Surface water

Groundwater

N/A

Tas

Water licence

N/A

Water allocation

Surface water

Groundwater

Surety level 1–8

(1 is highest priority)

NT

N/A

Water extraction licence

Water allocation

Unregulated surface water

Unregulated groundwater

Security class
(e.g. high, medium, low)

ACT

Water access entitlement (Water Resources Act 2007)

Water access entitlement
(Water Resources Act 1998) )

Water allocation

Unregulated surface water

Unregulated groundwater

N/A

Adapted from NWC Australian water markets report 2008–09 and terms provided by data suppliers for the water market reports

Trading terminology table

The terminology used to describe the trading of water access entitlements and water allocations also differs across the jurisdictions. The table below provides a State and Territory mapping for trading terms.

Nationally equivalent terms for trading terminology.
Trade type State/Territory State/Territory term
Water access entitlement trade A transaction to transfer a water access entitlement from one legal entity to another, with or without a change in location, perpetually or for a specified term (i.e. lease).
 
Source: Adapted from NWC water markets report 2008-2009
 (lease)
ACT Trade for limited period
NSW Term transfer (similar to lease)
NT Temporary trade
Qld Lease
SA Temporary transfer
Tas Limited period transfer or temporary transfer
Vic Limited term transfer (unbundled) or temporary transfer (bundled)
WA Water licence agreement
Water access entitlement trade A perpetual or ongoing entitlement to exclusive access to a share of water from a specified consumptive pool as defined in the relevant water plan.
 
Source: Schedule B(ii) NWI
 (permanent/ongoing)
ACT, NT Water access entitlement trade
NSW Transfer or assign share component
Qld Transfer of water licence or water allocation
Permanent transfer of interim water allocation
SA Permanent transfer
Tas Absolute transfer
Vic, WA Transfer
Water allocation trade A transaction to transfer a water allocation from one legal entity to another, with or without a change in location, for the remaining water year (by default) or for a specified term that may be less than the end of the water year or carried over to subsequent years (i.e. lease).
 
Source: Adapted from NWC water markets report 2008-2009
ACT, NT, Vic Water allocation trade
NSW Assign water allocation
Qld Seasonal water assignment
SA Water allocation trade (for unbundled) or transfer water allocation - taking and holding (for bundled)
Tas Absolute transfer or limited period transfer
Vic, WA Temporary transfer or seasonal water assignment (for Harvey Water)

Adapted from NWC Australian water markets report 2008–09 and terms provided by data suppliers for the water market reports