Classification Framework for Water Entitlements

5.1 Developing a Classification System for all Water Access Entitlements

In the past 50 years, the number and variety of water access entitlements has risen dramatically in all jurisdictions of the MDB. This has often resulted in overlap and lack of coordination between states and territories. A comprehensive classification system of water access entitlements is needed to adequately reflect and account for the variety of attributes and management intent of water access entitlements across different scales (e.g., national, basin, catchment, river valley). In general, the 22 statutory water rights that are granted administratively to water users by the states across the MDB can be classified into six broad categories: (I) irrigation water rights; (II) stock and domestic rights; (III) urban water supply rights; (IV) industrial use rights; (V) indigenous water rights; and (VI) environmental water rights. The proposed classification system of all water access entitlements is presented in Table 5.

Table S: Six categories of water access entitlements


Water Access Entitlement

I Irrigation

High security access licence, General security access licence, Supplementary water access licence, Water right, Diversion licence, Sales water, Irrigation licence

II Stock and domestic

Domestic & stock access licence, Domestic & stock right, Stock & domestic licence

III Urban supply

Local water utility access licence, Town water supply, Metropolitan water licence, Country town water licence

IV Mining and industrial use

Supply by agreement, Industrial licence,

V Indigenous culture and others

Indigenous cultural access licence, Water (holding) licence

VI Environment and recreation

Conveyance access licence, Environmental water access licence, Recreational & environmental licence, Wetlands licence

In this proposed classification framework, the categories are deliberately broad to account for the variety of different water access entitlements. The new classification recognizes the real differences in terms of management requirements, ability and responsibility that exist between holders of these various water access entitlements. Such a classification system not only would benefit water resource planning, but also would allow for more informed policy discussion on the current and future roles that the various entitlement categories may have in a region. However, the proposed classification does not suggest that existing on-ground jurisdictional water access entitlement names should be altered. Water access entitlement Category I is usually separated from Categories II-VI as the former generally involves greater intervention and modification, and is usually allowed for trading (see Figure 2).

Nature of Entitlement

.4- Longer Tenure Shorter _

Hig Trade Low

her ibility er

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