Water allocation dealings

Water allocation dealings include a change to a water allocation that affects its registered, resource-related attributes or proprietary or tenancy interests. Not all water allocation dealings require approval from the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water. However, for any dealing to have effect, all relevant documents must be lodged for registration on the Water Allocations Register. The different types of dealings are explained below.

Dealings that require prior approval

A water allocation may need to be changed in some way to meet a buyer's or seller's needs or a holder may want to change an allocation in some way without selling it. Dealings affecting the registered, resource-related attributes of a water allocation, that require approval by the department before registration include:

  • changes
  • subdivisions
  • amalgamations.

The allocation holder must get approval for these dealings from the department who will issue a water allocation dealing certificate.

Before it expires, this certificate must be registered on the Water Allocations Register (WAR) using a Form 14 - General Request or the dealing will lapse and cannot be registered until a new certificate is provided.

Depending on whether the allocation is for supplemented or unsupplemented supply, and whether it is mortgaged, additional registration requirements may apply.

Changing water allocations

The most common request is to move the allocation to a different location. The location is a zone specified in a water plan, typically a reach of a river, from which water can be taken. Each water management protocol (for unsupplemented water allocations) or operations manual (for water allocations managed under a resource operations licence) includes trading rules detailing permitted and prohibited changes to water allocations in the area.

To help determine if a potential change will be approved, the holder should consider the combined volumetric current water allocation locations for each zone.

If a proposed change doesn't specifically relate to the trading rules, the applicant may be required to carry out a more substantial investigation, which includes publicly advertising the application. However, there is still no guarantee of approval.

Changing the location of your water allocation may also require a development permit for any necessary water-related developments, for example installing a watercourse pump.

Subdividing water allocations

A water allocation can be subdivided into 2 or more parts so that a part of the original allocation can be sold or leased, or some attributes changed.

Amalgamating allocations

Two or more allocations with the same attributes can be amalgamated to create a new single allocation. If the attributes are not the same, for example if the separate water allocations authorise taking water from different locations, the holder must apply to the department to change the location of one or more of them, as the water allocations must all have the same attributes before they can be amalgamated.

Before amalgamation, multiple holders must also ensure that the tenancy arrangements they have registered are identical for each water allocation.

Dealings that do not require prior approval

Leases or transfers of water allocations that do not affect a water allocation's resource-related attributes (but may affect its proprietary or tenancy interests) do not require approval from the department. However, notices may have to be given and all relevant documents must be registered on the WAR.

Additional registration requirements

There are additional registration requirements, depending on whether allocations are for supplemented or unsupplemented supply, and whether they are mortgaged.

Supplemented supply

A transfer, lease, subdivision, amalgamation or change of an allocation taken from supplemented supply (e.g. water released from dams) must be accompanied by a Notice to registrar of water allocations of existence of supply contract (PDF, 500KB) with the supply scheme operator.

Unsupplemented supply

To transfer or lease an unsupplemented water allocation, the holder must supply a Notice of proposed transfer or lease of unsupplemented water allocation (PDF, 1.6MB), which is not strictly an approval. The department will then issue a water allocation dealing certificate acknowledging the proposed transfer or lease.

For the transfer or lease to be registered on the WAR, the dealing certificate must be lodged at the same time as either Form 1 - Transfer and Form 24 - Property Transfer Information or Form 7 - Lease/Sublease.

Distribution network obligations

Within some water supply schemes, some water allocations also receive water via works that further distribute water into off-stream channels and/or watercourses. These 'distribution networks' are managed by a distribution operations licence holder who is authorised to take or interfere with the flow of water to distribute water under an allocation.

An administrative advice recorded on the title of such a water allocations makes it known that the distribution licence holder can require payment from the allocation holder. This obligation to pay a charge continues with the water allocation, even when the title is transferred or leased, or if an allocation is changed, subdivided or amalgamated. Payment is a matter for the licence holder and the allocation holder.

If the distribution operations licence holder provides the department with a notice stating that the obligation for payment has been satisfied, the department must give the Registrar of Titles and Water Allocations notice of this and the administrative advice will be removed from the title.

Mortgaged water allocations

Like land, a water allocation can be mortgaged. If the allocation being transferred is mortgaged, the seller must complete and submit Form 3 - release of mortgage, so that the transfer documents can be registered.

Similarly, the registrar will not record the subdivision or amalgamation of a mortgaged allocation unless the mortgagee consents to the dealing by completing and submitting Form 18 - general consent.

If a water allocation being changed is mortgaged, the holder should also consider any possible mortgagee requirements.

Order of document registration

You may be required to lodge documents in a particular order when submitting multiple dealings for registration on the WAR. For example, if one part of a subdivided allocation is to be changed, the subdivision must be entered on the WAR before the water allocation dealing certificate is lodged.