Water Shares, Delivery Shares and Water Use Licences
The reform of Victorian entitlements in declared water systems meets the National Water Initiative requirement that access to water be separately specified to access to land.
Traditional water rights and take and use licences in declared water systems have been unbundled into three entitlements:
- Water share – a legally recognised, secure share of the water available to be taken from a defined water system; a water share is specified as a maximum volume of seasonal allocation that may be made against that share.
- Delivery share – the right to have water delivered by a water corporation and a share of the available flow in a delivery system: a share in terms of unit volume per unit of time of the total amount of water that can be drawn from a water system at a certain point.
- Water-use licences – the right to use water on a specific piece of land, or water-use registration: an authorisation to use water for purposes other than irrigation.
Entitlements in declared systems in Victoria are automatically recorded in the Water Register, the public register of all water-related entitlements in Victoria.
The right to take water in declared systems is not tied to land. Nevertheless, under the legislation there was initially a limit of 10% on the volume of water shares in a declared system that could be free of any association with land. This 10% limit was abolished in September 2009.
Reliability of water shares
Water shares are classed according to their reliability, which is defined by the frequency with which full seasonal allocations are expected to be available.
Most water shares are classified as either high-reliability or low-reliability.
Who can hold a water share, delivery share and water-use licence?
Water shares, delivery shares and water-use licences can be held by any legal person provided they meet certain requirements which vary depending on the type of entitlement held:
- Water shares – can be held by any legal person.
- Delivery shares – must be linked to land but can be held by any legal person.
- Water-use licences – must be held by an owner/occupier of land.
How are water shares created and traded?
Water shares exist in declared systems in northern Victoria and the Werribee and Thomson/Macalister water systems in southern Victoria.
When regulated waterways in Victoria became declared systems, water rights and section 51 licences in these systems were converted to water shares. The process for this conversion is set out in schedule 15 of the Water Act 1989.
Trade is the normal method for acquiring/ purchasing a water share. Rules governing how and when water can be traded and maps of trading zones are available on the Water Register website.