Economic assets

All economic assets are types of water access entitlements, either water access rights or basic water rights. In NSW, water access entitlements are known as ‘water access licences’. Within the asset database, every water access entitlement is an element. Elements are grouped by type and also spatially to create assets. Basic landholder rights (i.e. a type of basic water right), including riparian rights, maintain the right of those adjacent to rivers, estuaries, lakes or aquifers underlying the land to extract water for domestic and stock use without a water access licence. Basic landholder rights are defined by the jurisdiction based on the location of the water source and include an estimated volume of use based on the number of landholders with adjacent water sources.

For the economic assets, the water access entitlement assets are divided into two classes:

  • Basic water right (domestic and stock) – this is the right to take water for domestic and stock purposes only. A basic right for ‘take of groundwater’ requires approval for the works (bore) but does not require a licence for the extraction of groundwater. A basic right for ‘take of surface water’ does not require an approval for the works or approval for the extraction of surface water.
  • Water access right – this right requires an approval for the works and a licence for the extraction of the water. The extraction of the water can be for a range of purposes including irrigation, commercial, industrial, farming, dewatering, mining, intensive agriculture etc.

Licensing data were sourced from the NSW Office of Water to determine economic assets (NSW Office of Water, 2013). These data are currently not publically available and were obtained by special request. Consistent with how water licensing information is published under the Commonwealth’s Water Act 2007, this data will be published in an aggregated form. Data covered groundwater and surface water licences, and their corresponding works locations. Data about basic landholder rights were sourced online from the publically available water sharing plans (NSW Department of Primary Industries, 2014).

In collating the economic elements, it was considered important to ensure no current or active water access entitlements were excluded, even where there was doubt about the current status of the entitlement, for example, 'sleeper' licences. For example, basic water rights (stock and domestic) do not have to be renewed on a frequent basis leading to some uncertainty about their current use status. This meant that only surface and groundwater licences that were definitely 'abandoned', 'cancelled' or 'suspended' as at 20 November 2013 were marked as not 'current' or 'active' and therefore excluded for BA purposes. This also applied to any water access licences that did not have a corresponding works approval with location information. Where works (locations) information was present it was linked to the particular surface water or groundwater licences, and a count added to show how many works were associated with each licence. The volume of the licence was then equally split among the works to ensure that the licence volumes were not double‑counted. A GIS layer was derived using the spatial coordinates provided with the licensed work approvals. This spatial layer was overlain with the PAE for the Gloucester subregion. The intersection of the two layers combined with the related attribute data gave a spatially explicit view of the active entitlements within the PAE, with a volume attributed to each works (surface water and groundwater).

The class of asset was aggregated using the NSW Office of Water 'purpose' field which records the purpose that water is used for. Any purpose that was listed as ‘Domestic’ and/or ‘Stock’ was included in the class 'Basic water right'. Where ‘Stock’ and/or ‘Domestic’ was listed with another licensed purpose, it was listed as a 'Water access right'. 'Water access right' was based on anything that had an extractive use purpose such as, for example, commercial, irrigation, farming, industrial, or dewatering.

The process assumed that each of the works associated with a water access right licence extracts an equal share of the volume. Each licence can have one or multiple works associated with it, where the works is the location where the water is extracted through a bore or pump. Therefore if there is one groundwater licence of 80 ML/year that has four works (bores) associated with it, then 20 ML/year is assigned to each of those works. It is not possible to validate this assumption within the resources of the BA. It is possible that the majority of extraction occurs at a single works location and is not evenly distributed across all works associated with the licence.

Groundwater works that were not classified as a basic water right or a water access right were classed as ‘null’. These included test bores, bores installed for groundwater remediation, exploratory bores, exploratory research, monitoring bores and waste disposal bores. These elements are be ‘flagged’ in the asset database and are not included in the water‑dependent asset register.

Last updated:
28 September 2018