Gulf unallocated water release (Gilbert and Cloncurry Rivers)

We continue to accept online applications for unallocated water held in general reserves in the Gilbert River. All lots that were originally made available in the Cloncurry River have now been granted.

Read the terms of sale and the information below. Then use the online form to apply. Applications will be accepted until all the water is sold—details of remaining water are provided below.

Apply for water

How much water can I buy?

The water is being made available in specified lots.

Area Lots available
Cloncurry River (Zone 11 AMTD 0km–328km) None available - all lots granted
Gilbert River (Zone 6 AMTD 0km–171km) 15 lots of 5000ML
Gilbert River (Zone 6 AMTD 171km-368km) 10 lots of 1,000ML

The maximum number of lots available depends on the payment plan chosen:

  • For upfront payment a maximum of 3 lots can be purchased.
  • Under an annualised payment plan a maximum of 1 lot is available in a 12-month period, with a maximum of 3 lots in total.

Considerations when selecting a payment plan

Your ability to trade entitlements will be different depending on the payment plan you choose (check the Terms of sale (PDF, 1.1MB) for details). The full payment option will provide greater flexibility, consistent with national water principles that longer term right to water should provide greater flexibility for those prepared to pay the full cost of the entitlement.

The authority to take water also differs between the 2 payment options. For the payment in full option, you can take water as soon as the full payment is received. For annualised payment plans, you can take water after the first annual payment. We may cancel the licence if you default on the annualised payment.

Calculation of annualised payments

Annualised payments are determined by dividing the full payment price for the lot size by 20 years and adding the annual licence fee. In the first year:

  • a 5000ML lot size will pay $31,371.60
  • a 1500ML lot size will pay $9496.60
  • a 1000ML lot size will pay $6371.60.

Prices in the subsequent years will be subject to Consumer Price Index increases applied to the price per ML and the annual fee. Worked examples can be found in the Terms of sale (PDF, 1.1MB).

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 being actively discussed with the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP).

Note: Water is not being made available from the Flinders River to ensure emerging large-scale proposals being considered by DSDMIP. A recent release of 92,500ML of water was allocated from the Flinders River through a tender process. This release did not include water from the Gilbert River catchment.

Application requirements

Vegetation clearing approvals

There have been recent changes to the Vegetation Management Act 1999. If you need to clear regulated vegetation to establish irrigation, please check the legislation. Please note that you can no longer make a 22A application for 'clearing vegetation to establish irrigated high value agriculture' as a relevant purpose.

Timeline for demonstrating take of water or construction of infrastructure

You will need to demonstrate that you have begun taking water or have constructed infrastructure within 3 years of obtaining the water licence.

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 purchased for genuine development opportunities.

Transfers, renewals 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 who is accountable for meeting 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). If you apply to transfer the licence, you must provide current results from the prescribed assessment computer program simulation for the simulation period.

It is not intended that licences granted under an annualised payment plan will be seasonally or permanently relocated.

Transitioning to a long-term licence

Holders of 20-year licences have the option to transition to a long-term licence after 5 years. You will need to demonstrate that you have complied with the conditions of your 20-year licence before you can do this.

You will also need to pay the full purchase price for the water per megalitre and acknowledge that no money will be refundable.

Renewing licences

Before expiry, you can apply for the renewal of the licence to be considered by the chief executive of the department. If you don’t apply to renew, you will lose the right to take water once the licence expires and the water will be returned to the state's unallocated water reserve.

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 sale 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.