Watercourse Authorities

What is a Watercourse Authority?

A Watercourse Authority is an approval that authorises a person to convey, via a watercourse, water that has been taken and stored under the Water Management Act 1999 (“the Act") or the Irrigation Clauses Act 1973.

In general, a Watercourse Authority will provide permission (subject to conditions) to both a person to release stored water from their dam into a watercourse and to a person located downstream who wishes to take the water from the watercourse either directly or into storage, using the one approval process.

Do I need a Watercourse Authority?

If water is being released from a dam into a watercourse to be picked up downstream, then the answer is, YES (please note the exemptions to this requirement listed below).

Exemptions to needing a Watercourse Authority

Some exemptions presently apply under the Water Management Act 1999 for approved Irrigation Schemes and Trusts.

Persons who wish to convey water via a watercourse within the -

  • River Clyde Irrigation District
  • Cressy Longford Irrigation Water District
  • Lake Leake/Elizabeth/Macquarie River Irrigation District
  • Tooms Lake/Macquarie River Irrigation District

are exempt from requiring a Watercourse Authority, provided they have first obtained the approval of the relevant responsible water entity managing the district.

How do I apply for a Watercourse Authority?

To apply for a Watercourse Authority download the "Application for a Watercourse Authority Form" via the link below,  or contact your RWMO for a copy and they will advise on how to fill it out.

Application for a Watercourse Authority Form

Payment must be supplied with the 'Application for Watercourse Authority' form to ensure it is processed as soon as possible. There are a number of payment options available. Please refer to the factsheet 'Applying for a Watercourse Authority – Payment Information' for further information.

Applying for a Watercourse Authority – Payment Information

Do I need a conveyance agreement?

In some situations, the water being released downstream will need to pass through an existing dam (owned by a 3rd party) to reach its destination.

It is advised that if the water you are releasing or receiving has to pass through an existing instream dam or two, that you arrange a conveyance agreement between yourself and the owners of the dams through which the water needs to be passed.

Conveyance Agreement

A conveyance agreement is a civil matter between yourself and the relevant dam owners. The Department will not be involved in any disputes arising from the conveyance of water, as these trades are considered to be a civil matter. It will be entirely the responsibility of the parties involved to ensure that water is released in accordance with the conditions of the conveyance agreement.

While a conveyance agreement is not essential for the approval of a Watercourse Authority, there may be some situations where an agreement will be mandatory and required before the Watercourse Authority can be approved. These will be for complex scenarios involving larger volumes of water and multiple 3rd party dam owners affected.

What conditions will the Watercourse Authority have?

All Watercourse Authorities will be required to be able to demonstrate compliance with release and extraction rates and conditions specified on the approved Watercourse Authority.

Conditions in regards to water quality and transmission losses will be added as specific conditions on the Watercourse Authority.

Conditions on the Watercourse Authority address issues such as;

  • Accounting for the water released and taken.
  • Ensuring water quality is maintained (and therefore no environmental harm is caused).
  • Ensuring that the transmission loss requirements in times of low flow or in restriction periods can be modified, to ensure equity of access between all users.
  • To allow for an annual review of conditions and for conditions to be modified as required.

Futher Information

Contact your Regional Water Management Officer for assistance.


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