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 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. 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.

Different combinations may be more appropriate in different areas.

We seek your comment on the method or combination of methods that best suits your area. We are initially seeking feedback from licence holders in areas that are most likely to exceed groundwater extraction limits in 2020-21, including:

  • 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 and the relevant water sharing plan allows for either the available water determination and/or the maximum water account debit to be reduced.