What is this about?

The amount of groundwater that can be extracted from a groundwater source is limited.

Water sharing plans set long-term average annual extraction limits and Basin Plan sustainable diversion limits.

While the total amount extracted by all water users varies each year, on average it cannot exceed the extraction limits.

Before July each water year, the department assesses the level of extraction in each groundwater source. If average extraction by all water users exceeds the limits set out in the water sharing plan, the department may need to reduce access in the following year/s to return average extraction to the limit. Under the water sharing plans, this can be done by:

  • reducing the amount of water going into accounts (known as an available water determination)
  • reducing the amount of water that can be taken or traded from accounts (known as a maximum water account debit), or
  • a combination of these methods.

The most appropriate approach taken may differ from area to area.

Between November 2020 and March 2021, we sought comment on the method or combination of methods that best suits areas that are most likely to exceed groundwater extraction limits in 2020-21. These areas (groundwater sources) were the:

  • Great Artesian Basin Eastern Recharge
  • Lower Murrumbidgee Deep
  • Upper Macquarie
  • Lower Lachlan
  • Upper Namoi Zone 3
  • Upper Namoi Zone 5
  • Upper Murray

We will seek feedback from other areas in the future if they are likely to exceed their extraction limits.