About water allocation planning

Water is vital for the wellbeing, prosperity and lifestyle enjoyed by many Territorians and also maintains the health of our unique environment. 

Despite Wet Season rainfall in the Top End, water is not in endless supply and we rely heavily on groundwater reserves during the Dry Season. Central Australia relies on groundwater supplies all year round.

To protect the health of rivers and groundwater reserves for future generations we need to make sure water is used sustainably. 

Water Allocation Framework (242.6 kb)

The NT Water Act allows for improved water resource management in certain areas through the development of Water Allocation Plans.

Water Allocation Plans are developed through detailed technical and scientific assessments as well as extensive community participation and consultation.

A Water Allocation Plan includes the following:

  • water allocations for towns, agriculture and industry
  • water allocations for the environment designed to protect river/groundwater ecology
  • strategies to achieve water use efficiency, including arrangements for water trading
  • information about the reliability of water allocations
  • a monitoring and reporting program to ensure the plan is working.

Water Allocation Plans are being developed on a priority basis in areas where there are competing demands for human consumptive needs and/or where natural aquatic ecosystems have significant ecological or social values.

Map of Water Planning Areas (3.6 mb)

Through the Water Act, water control districts and water allocation plans, the Northern Territory Government is striving to achieve a sustainable balance between development and conservation so that residents, tourists and businesses can continue to enjoy the benefits derived from river and groundwater systems that are properly managed.

Beneficial uses

The Act provides the legal framework for the allocation of water to various declared beneficial uses including:

  • agriculture 
  • aquaculture
  • public water supply 
  • stock
  • domestic use 
  • industry.

Adequate provisions are made to maintain cultural and environmental water requirements.

The Act allows for the declaration of water allocation plans within water control districts, ensuring water is equitably managed to preserve quality of life and the integrity of the water dependent ecosystems in the region.

Water allocation plan benefits

A water allocation plan details the area and water resource to which the plan applies as well as the vision, objectives, strategies and performance indicators of the plan. It also sets limits to the availability of water assigned to each beneficial use, rules for managing licences and the rules for water trading.

The benefits of this water allocation planning process are:

  • a transparent stakeholder driven plan that will protect environmental and human interests
  • secure water extraction licences for the duration of the water allocation plan
  • an assurance that licences to extract water (from a source defined within the plan) will not be issued if they are deemed to have unacceptable repercussions on other beneficial uses, especially the environment
  • establishment of a basis for the permanent trade of water from one location to another (within the area defined by the plan) subject to various rules
  • protection of water related cultural values within the region
  • protection of water dependent ecosystems within the region.

For more information contact Water Resources on (08) 8999 4455 or email waterresources@nt.gov.au

Last updated: 07 February 2017