Seasonal water assignment market

Seasonal water assignments (sometimes called 'temporary trades') are useful for meeting additional short-term water needs. Under these assignments, some or all of the water that may be taken under a water entitlement in a water year can be assigned to another person or place.

There is no limit to the number of assignments of unused water that can be made in any water year. Also any unused part of the assigned water can be reassigned to a third party during the remainder of the water year. A water year, which sometimes coincides with the financial year, is the annual accounting period for a water management protocol, operations manual, or water licence as provided in the Water Regulation 2016.

A water plan, water management protocol, operations manual and the Water Regulation 2016 set out the rules applying to seasonal water assignments. Both supplemented and unsupplemented water can be seasonally assigned but different processes apply.

Supplemented water supply

Supplemented water refers to water delivered from infrastructure. A water supply scheme owner is granted a licence depending on whether they own the storage or distribution infrastructure. A resource operations licence (ROL) is granted to owners of head works infrastructure such as dams and weirs. A distribution operations licence (DOL) is granted to the owner of any diversion infrastructure used to further distribute water, such as pipes to an off-stream channel, if they are not owned by the ROL holder.

A supplemented water allocation holder wishing to arrange a seasonal water assignment requires the consent of the ROL holder in every case. For water allocations that are also distributed by a DOL holder, the seasonal water assignment rules in an operations manual will state when the consent of the DOL holder is also required. The Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water has no involvement in managing or approving these temporary trades.

Unsupplemented water supply

Unsupplemented water is surface water or ground water that is not reliant on infrastructure to store or distribute water. However, this water is still sustainably managed by the department. As unsupplemented water supply is highly variable throughout Queensland, a seasonal water assignment can only be undertaken in areas where a water plan, water management plan or water sharing rules contained in the Water Regulation 2016 allows for it to occur. When applying for a seasonal water assignment, applicants should read the relevant rules and liaise with their local business centre to arrange the assignment.

The holder of an unsupplemented water allocation, a seasonal water assignment notice or water licence may apply for a seasonal water assignment. The process involves:

If a seasonal water assignment is approved, the department will issue the assignor (water entitlement holder) with an information notice stating that the assigned water has been debited against their water entitlement for the water year.

The assignee will be issued a seasonal water assignment notice, which enables the assignee to reassign any unused portion of the assigned water in that same water year. If the assignee has been issued such notice and the original water entitlement is subsequently sold, the assignee's authority to take the water assigned will not be affected in any way.


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