Authorisations in water areas

You may require an authorisation for an activity in a water area. An authorisation may be in the form of a tradable water allocation, water licence, water permit or seasonal water assignment.

  • A water plan will generally apply to rivers, lakes, dams and springs, groundwater and overland flow within a major catchment area (water area).
  • An authorisation to construct works to take or interfere with water may also be required.

For more information on water authorisations, contact your local business centre.

Activities not requiring authorisation

There are a number of activities that do not require a water entitlement (licence, allocation or interim allocation) under the Water Act 2000.

The activities listed below are those which cannot be limited by a water plan:

  • general authorisations to take water, including:
    • for emergencies
    • for fire fighting or routine testing of fire fighting equipment
    • for camping
    • for watering travelling stock
    • take of overland flow water that is contaminated agricultural run-off
  • take by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parties for traditional activities or cultural purposes
  • take of surface water from a dam or watercourse, lake or spring by land owners for stock purposes.

The activities listed below are those which may be limited by a water plan:

  • take of overland flow water
  • take or interfere with underground water
  • those activities listed in schedule 3 of the Water Regulation 2016
  • take of water by land owners for domestic purposes
  • take from underground water by land owners for stock purposes.

Water for domestic purposes

You may not need to apply for an authorisation for taking or interfering with water in some water areas for activities such as stock and domestic purposes.

The Water Act provides users of water for domestic purposes to take water from watercourses, lakes, springs, aquifers or overland flow for gardens (including lawns) up to 0.5 hectare in area. In some water planning areas, the volume of water or size of the garden may be limited where it has been deemed that such activities have a 'high risk' to existing water entitlement users.

Domestic water users are now allowed to sell or barter produce from gardens up to 0.5 hectare in area.

Constructing authorities

A constructing authority may take water without a permit or licence to construct or maintain infrastructure. The requirements for this exemption are outlined in the Exemption requirements for constructing authorities for the take of water without a water entitlement (PDF, 101KB).

Environmental authorities and development permits

A person may take overland flow water that is not more than the volume necessary to satisfy the requirements of an environmental authority or development permit. A person may also interfere with the flow of water within a watercourse by impoundment as necessary to satisfy the requirements of an environmental authority.

Please contact the your local business centre for further clarification whether the take or interference activities do not require an authorisation under the Water Act 2000.

Mining, petroleum and gas activities

Associated underground water

The take of associated underground water for some activities may be regulated under other legislation such as the Mineral Resources Act 1989, the Petroleum Act 1923 or the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004. In these cases a water licence may not be required under the the Water Act, however may be subject to other reporting, monitoring and make good obligations.

Projects that have advanced through environmental assessment processes and not yet obtained a water licence, where required, may be subject to transitional provisions requiring an 'associated water licence'.

Watercourse diversions

Mining activities often require the diversion of a watercourse. The Water Act has been amended to enable mining companies to:

  • apply to divert a watercourse under the environmental authority framework of the Environmental Protection Act 1994
  • have a proposed watercourse diversion assessed and conditioned along with other mining-related activities on an environment authority.

The granting of a watercourse diversion under the environmental authority framework removes the need for a water licence to be granted under the Water Act.

To assist mining companies in successfully applying to construct a watercourse diversion, we have developed a technical guideline (PDF, 798KB).

In some instances, a mining company will need to apply for a water licence under the Water Act, particularly if the diversion is not wholly located within the mining tenement. To assist mining companies applying under the Water Act, the technical guideline (PDF, 800KB) has been modified to reflect the approval process under the Water Act. Mining companies are encouraged to contact the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy for further clarification if required.

Both guidelines outline requirements that do not apply to existing diversions authorised under the Water Act or other relevant legislation (e.g. Central Queensland Coal Associates Agreement Act 1968). It is not proposed that current authorised watercourse diversions under the Water Act will transition across to the Environmental Authority framework.