Water management fees in Queensland

The Queensland Government undertakes a number of water planning and management activities to manage the state's water resources.

To cover some of the costs of these activities, water users in Queensland are subject to the following fees and charges:

  • water-related application and administrative fees
  • water licence fees
  • water harvesting charges
  • meter service charges.

Application and administrative fees

Fees are charged for:

  • applications relating to water licence dealings
  • applications and lodgement of documents relating to water allocations
  • applications for water bore driller's licences
  • development applications relating to operational work.

These fees and charges are payable to the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) on application. A full list of these fees is found in schedule 12 of the Water Regulation 2016.

Water licence fee

All unsupplemented water licence holders are required to pay an annual water licence fee other than to take water for stock or domestic purposes (unless the licence is for taking underground water for stock and domestic purposes from the Great Artesian Basin).

The water licence fee is also found in schedule 12 of the Water Regulation 2016.

Charges in water management areas

Prior to a water management area being declared, we consult with water entitlement holders. Once the area is declared, the water resource is more actively managed and water use is regulated.

Holders of unsupplemented water entitlements which allow for water harvesting in declared water management areas generally pay water harvesting charges to the department. These charges are calculated on the amount of water taken. There are no charges if water is not taken. These water users are billed annually at the end of the water year. Water harvesting charges that apply in water management areas can be found in schedule 14 of the Water Regulation 2016.

Waiving fees due to hardship

The Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy may decide to partly or completely waive a fee or charge in the Water Regulation 2016 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.

Administrative framework

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. The government then decides on the charge and the Governor in Council approves the introduction of the charge through legislation. Consistent with our Financial Management Practice Manual, we regularly review the prices charged for goods and services.

Fees and charges listed in schedule 12 and 14 of the Water Regulation 2016 are generally increased each year on 1 July 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 (like the CPI) is exempt from the system. This means we are not required to consult on the charges that are increased in line with CPI each year.

In the Murray–Darling Basin, DNRME releases a public notice to notify users of new charges and when they change.

Generally, water fees and charges listed under schedule 12 and 14 of the Water Regulation 2016 recover only a small proportion of the total water planning and management costs incurred by DNRME.