Gulf unallocated water release (Gilbert, Norman, Leichhardt and Nicholson rivers)
We are releasing unallocated water to support economic development opportunities for irrigated agriculture and other commercial enterprises in the Gilbert, Norman and Nicholson catchments and the Lower Leichardt sub-catchment.
Before applying, read the terms of release and the information below. Then follow the instructions in the terms of release to apply.
Applications will be accepted until all the water is allocated. Details of the available water are provided below.
- Terms of release (PDF, 529KB)
- Gulf water availability map (PDF, 2.9MB)
- Queensland Globe Gulf unallocated water release mapping
For more information or to apply, email WaterServicesNorth@rdmw.qld.gov.au.
How much water you can get
Water is available up to the volumetric limits listed in the table below.
|Area||Total available||Property limit|
|Gilbert River (Zone 6 AMTD 0km–171km)||Up to 75,000 megalitres||Up to 25,000 megalitres per property|
|Gilbert River (Zone 6 and unzoned area from AMTD 171km–368km)||Up to 10,000 megalitres||Up to 2,000 megalitres per property|
|Norman Catchment Area F||Up to 3,000 megalitres||Up to 3,000 megalitres per property|
|Lower Leichhardt Subcatchment Area (iv)||0 megalitres (all water allocated)||0 megalitres (all water allocated)|
|Nicholson Subcatchment Area (i)||Up to 4,400 megalitres||Up to 4,400 megalitres per property|
Price and payment
There are 2 payment options. You can pay either:
- full value amount – $125 per megalitre upfront
- annual instalment amount – $13 per megalitre per year for 10 years.
Considerations when selecting a payment plan
Your ability to trade entitlements will depend on the payment plan you choose (check the terms of release (PDF, 622KB) for details).
Purpose of the release
The release of unallocated water in the Gulf will support sustainable agriculture and maximise the economic benefits to the region by enabling projects to start as soon as they have secured water. The release is being targeted at landholders entering into irrigation activity or expanding existing activity.
The nominated volumes allow for a reasonable scale development to commence and rapid assessment. The volume of water being made available reflects known demand and the need to retain water for emerging large-scale proposals.
Note: Water is not being made available from the Flinders River to allow time for proponents to develop and submit large-scale infrastructure proposals. We will evaluate these proposals and consider whether to release unallocated water for large-scale projects in the Flinders catchment in early 2021.
Vegetation clearing approvals
To be eligible for unallocated water, the proposed development footprint must be free of vegetation management constraints. Request a property report and vegetation map for more information about vegetation clearing constraints.
Timeline for demonstrating take of water or construction of infrastructure
There is a significant volume of water already allocated in the Gulf water plan area which has not yet been utilised. In response to community feedback, this release process encourages water to be allocated for genuine development opportunities.
As a condition of any licence granted from unallocated water, you will need to demonstrate your intention to use water – either by physically taking water or at least constructing infrastructure capable of taking water within 3 years of obtaining the water licence.
Transfers and other licence changes
Change of land ownership
The entitlement issued for unallocated water is a water licence that attaches to land. If the land is sold, the new owner of land becomes the water licence holder and will need to fulfill the licence conditions.
Transferring the licence
Transfer of licences is subject to group B water transfer rules, as stated in the Gulf resource operations plan (PDF, 4.8MB).
Licences granted with an annualised payment plan must not be permanently relocated, unless the total value of the water is paid in full.
Impact on existing entitlements and the environment
Licences granted will include conditions that are designed to meet environmental flow objectives and protect existing users' access to water.
The annual and daily volumes identified in the terms of release for each zone provide limits that ensure new entitlements will not compromise the reliability of existing entitlements. Flow thresholds will ensure that peak flows continue to provide ecological benefits to waterholes, floodplains, estuaries and Gulf fisheries.
Related water release
Water is also being released from the Flinders River Catchment Area to support new and existing agricultural development and directly associated industries.
- Last reviewed: 28 Jul 2023
- Last updated: 28 Jul 2023