Water Allocation Plan for the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse

The River Murray is critical to South Australia’s communities, industries, unique environment and way of life. The Water Allocation Plan for the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse (the water allocation plan)is in place to manage and protect the river for all water users, and make sure that water use is sustainable.

The water allocation plan covers the River Murray downstream from the Victorian border and includes Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, part of Currency Creek, and the Finniss, Angas and Bremer Rivers. See the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse map .

The water allocation plan:

  • shares available water amongst all water users, including the environment, now and into the future
  • provides greater transparency for water users, especially about how water will be allocated. 

How was the water allocation plan developed?

The water allocation plan was developed by the former South Australian Murray-Darling Natural Resources Management (SAMDB NRM) Board and the community-based River Murray Advisory Committee (RMAC), in collaboration with key stakeholders and the Department for Environment and Water. The SAMDB NRM Board has now been replaced by the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board and the statutory functions have been transferred to the new board as well.  

An amendment was made to the water allocation plan in April 2020 to update the private carryover policy. A consultation and alterations report summarising the consultation undertaken can be viewed here. A list of comments received can be viewed here .

At the same time, a ministerial change was also made to refer to Class 3 water access entitlements as 'Class 3 (High Security)' water access entitlements. This improves alignment of South Australia’s River Murray irrigation water entitlements with similar products interstate, like New South Wales high security licences and Victorian high-reliability shares. 

What do I need to know about the rules in the water allocation plan?

The water allocation plan sets out the rules for taking and using water to make sure that use is sustainable and to protect the water resource for current and future users. If you are a water user, it is important that you know about the rules in the water allocation plan.

Fact sheets that explain the policies in the water allocation plan are available and include:

Where can I find out more?

Find out more about:

How does this affect my existing licence and approvals?

Your existing water rights remain the same. The adoption of the water allocation plan does not affect your ability to use or trade water.

Information about the 2020-21 water use year

The Murray-Darling Basin continues to face dry conditions and this could affect allocations during the 2020-21 water use year. The Department for Environment and Water will be providing regular updates on conditions and allocation announcements. Keep up to date here.

Arrangements are in place to help South Australia prepare for an extended dry period, including storage of water for critical human water needs and private carryover purposes, and activation of the policy for use of the Adelaide Desalination Plant in dry times. Tools such as flow reports and allocation probability scenarios will be provided to keep water users informed.

To find out more and to access tools to help prepare for the year ahead, please visit the DEW website here.

Basin Plan and Water Resource Plans

The water allocation plan forms part of the South Australian River Murray Water Resource Plan. Water resource plans are required to be prepared under the Basin Plan to show how we are sustainably managing the River Murray.

Water user’s obligations are met by complying with the water allocation plan.

The Department for Environment and Water has prepared the South Australian River Murray Water Resource Plan. To find out more visit their website here.

More information

To find out more about how the rules in the water allocation plan apply to you:

Printed copies of the water allocation plan are available if you would like to call a natural resources centre either in Berri 08 8580 1800 or Murray Bridge 08 8532 9100 and we can mail one out to you.

To talk through any of the policies in the water allocation plan, please contact the Senior Project Officer, River Murray Water Allocation Plan on 08 8463 6877 or email rmwap.feedback@sa.gov.au.

For more information about licensing, metering, or well permits please contact us on 08 8595 2053.

More information