The Queensland Government has made it easier for a person to use water without needing to obtain a water licence or allocation.
Recent amendments to the Water Act 2000 have:
- expanded the circumstances under which a person may take or interfere with water without a water entitlement; and
- removed the requirement for a person to obtain a riverine protection permit to destroy vegetation in a watercourse, lake or spring.
Taking and interfering with water
The Land, Water and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013, in conjunction with the Water and Another Regulation Amendment Regulation (No. 1) 2013 (which came into effect last Friday), stipulate when a person is authorised to take or interfere with water without a water licence or allocation.
These changes will benefit persons carrying out mining, petroleum, geothermal and GHG storage activities (including under both exploration and production tenements). Broadly speaking, tenement holders will be entitled to do the following without a water licence or allocation:
- take water for a public purpose in an emergency situation;
- take water for fire-fighting purposes (including constructing a bore);
- take water from a watercourse, lake or spring for camping purposes or water travelling stock;
- interfere with overland flow water;
- take overland flow water for any purpose (subject to any requirements under a moratorium notice, water resource place or wild river declaration);
- take water for low-impact activities prescribed under regulation (this includes washing down vehicles and carrying out testing of pumps and water bores);
- take or interfere with sub-artesian water for any purpose (subject to any requirements under a regulation);
- interfere with water for the purpose of diverting a watercourse associated with a resource activity, and this has been assessed and approved under an environmental authority; and
- (for petroleum tenure holders only) take or interfere with water to construct a water observation bore or water monitoring bore.
Vegetation in a watercourse, lake or spring
The amendments to the Water Act 2000 have removed the requirement for a person to obtain a riverine protection permit to destroy vegetation in a watercourse, lake or spring. However, a permit is still required to excavate or place fill in a watercourse, lake or spring.
Consequential amendments have also been made to the exemptions in Schedule 24, Part 1 of the Sustainable Planning Regulation 2009 to facilitate the clearing of an area of vegetation that is less than 0.5 hectares within a watercourse or lake where:
- the clearing is a necessary and unavoidable consequence of an activity authorised by a permit issued under the Water Act, section 269 (i.e excavation or placing of fill authorised under a riverine protection permit); or
- it is carried out under a document called “Riverine Protection Permit Exemption Requirements” approved by the chief executive of the Water Act and published on that Department’s website.