The 2009 Padthaway Water Allocation Plan: a community- based solution to overallocation in Padthaway
2009 Water Allocation Plan for the Padthaway Prescribed Wells Area
The 2009 Water Allocation Plan for the Padthaway Prescribed Wells Area was adopted by the Minister for Environment and Conservation on 26 April 2009.
This innovative Plan is the culmination of extensive community consultation and involvement, coupled with significant planning and research. It establishes a framework for the sustainable management of the groundwater resources in the Padthaway area, by providing for the allocation and trade of water, while maintaining the health of our natural resources and ecosystems.
COMMUNITIES INVOLVED IN NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
A community-based solution to over-allocation in Padthaway
The Padthaway community was pivotal in developing a method to address overallocation in the Padthaway area and maintain the health of the groundwater resources, while ensuring sufficient water for current irrigation-dependent industry to continue.
A key factor in the development of the 2009 Padthaway Water Allocation Plan has been an informed and involved community with:
- an active role in the board’s water allocation planning process;
- confidence in the science undertaken;
- understanding of the conditions of the resource;
- understanding of the requirements set out in the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 and the National Water Initiative; and
- understanding of the value of sustainable long-term management of their local resources.
Additional information on the community’s role in the development of the 2009 Padthaway Water Allocation Plan is available in the Guide to the Development and Contents of the Padthaway Water Allocation Plan
Where can I obtain a copy of the Water Allocation Plan?
A copy of the Plan was posted to all licensees. In addition, the Plan can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page or by calling Daniela Conesa on 8724 6018.
Is there a plain language explanation of the Water Allocation Plan policy and its background?
The recently finalised Guide to the Development and Contents of the 2009 Padthaway Water Allocation contains an explanation of the main principles in the Plan, as well as examples of their application.
Does this mean my allocation is now a volume?
Yes. Licensees received their new volumetric licence from the then Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation before 30 of June 2009. As a result, licensees will have to ensure their water use is within the volume shown on their licence for the 2009-2010 water use year.
Licensees will have the right to pump an additional 10% of water for the first 2 years. This volume will appear as a Bridging Volume on the licence, and is intended to provide licensees with time to adjust to their new allocation.
What if I need time to adjust to my new volume or need more water?
Licensees will have the right to pump an additional 10% of water for the first two years. This volume will appear as a Bridging Volume on the licence and is intended to provide licensees with time to adjust to their new allocation. Irrigators will also be able to carry over unused water into the next water use year, to a maximum of 20% of their annual allocation.
In addition, irrigators will be able to purchase another irrigator's unused water with no hydrogeological assessment, to a maximum of 20% of their annual allocation. These transfers are temporary and expire at the end of the water use year.
Finally, the Plan also provides for the transfer of additional volumes of water, whether in a temporary or permanent fashion, subject to hydrogeological assessment, within each management area.
More information on these options is available from the 2009 Padthaway Water Allocation Plan and the Guide to the Development and Contents of the Padthaway Water Allocation Plan.
Are irrigators still limited to a maximum area that can be irrigated?
No. Since the beginning of 2009-10 water use year, irrigators have no longer been limited to a maximum area of irrigation.
Has the Notice of Restriction been removed?
Yes. The Notice of Restriction on the taking of water has been removed by the Minister for Environment and Conservation. Licensees are now limited to extracting the volume that appears on their licence.
Recent history of water management in Padthaway
The scientific and technical expertise available to the board, combined with the ‘real life’ experience of the community, has helped the board to consider all possible options and eventually make the best possible decisions. There is not another area in the South East that is as thoroughly studied and as well understood as Padthaway.
Community consultation to date
The review and amendment of the Padthaway Water Allocation Plan was completed with the adoption by the Minister of the 2009 Padthaway Water Allocation Plan on 26 April 2009.
A first community consultation (A1 consultation) on issues and options for the review of the WAP was carried out in September 2005. A second round of community consultation (A2 consultation) occurred in December 2006, followed by a newsletter outlining the outcomes of this second consultation. A third and final round of consultation occurred in September 2008.
Addressing over-allocation in the Padthaway Prescribed Wells Area
An Acceptable Level of Extraction (ALE) of 48,000 ML/year was established with the aid of the then Department for Water’s PADMOD numerical model of salt and groundwater flows. Use of the Volumetric Conversion model developed earlier for conversion of area-based allocations to volumes, would result in the allocation of 89,000 ML/annum, well in excess of the ALE. As a result, a method to reduce over-allocation in the Padthaway Prescribed Wells Area has been developed with significant community input. Please see information sheet at the bottom of the page or, for more detail, refer to the Guide to the Development and Contents of the 2009 Padthaway Water Allocation Plan.
This proposal was presented to Padthaway licensees at a public meeting held in January 2008 and attended by 45 community members. It has also been incorporated in the 2009 Padthaway Water Allocation Plan. Information sheets explaining the contents of the draft Water Allocation Plan were posted to all licensees and landholders in August 2008.
An Information Forum to provide licensees with the opportunity to clarify questions regarding the draft Padthaway Water Allocation Plan in advance of the community consultation (B consultation), was held 11 September 2008 (1 pm – 8 pm).
Topics discussed included the reductions model developed by the community, new trade rules, seasonal carryovers, changes to the hydrogeological assessment and new management areas.
Approval to release the draft WAP for the Padthaway Prescribed Wells Area was obtained from the Minister on 27 August 2008. Licensees and landholders were sent a series of information sheets outlining the main proposals in the draft WAP and an invitation to attend a community consultation meeting on the contents of the draft WAP and/or provide comment in writing.
The community consultation was held on 18 September 2008 with 31 community members in attendance. In addition, a total of 12 written submissions were received by the closing date.
Both written submissions and community comments at the meeting were considered by the board and the resulting recommendations were included in a report to the Minister on the consultation. The Minister considered the report and carried out the additional consultation required by the Natural Resources Management Act 2004. The process culminated with the adoption of the Water Allocation Plan on 26 April 2009.
The Padthaway Groundwater Management Committee
The Padthaway Groundwater Management Committee was formed in 2002, as part of a range of measures to examine and ensure sustainable groundwater management in the area.
The Committee was composed of community members and board and the then DWLBC staff, and provided advice and options for management of the resource to the board.
The Committee met over 40 times and has made significant contributions to the 2009 Water Allocation Plan. The Committee’s efforts were recognised by the board in a nomination for the 2009 Premier’s Natural Resources Management Award, in which the Committee was selected as a finalist.
The Committee’s role in providing advice and options to the board has culminated with the adoption of the 2009 Water Allocation Plan for the Padthaway Prescribed Wells Area, and the board wishes to extend its appreciation of their efforts and contributions.
Research in Padthaway
Since the development of the 2001 Water Allocation Plan, studies were initiated to determine the causes of the rising groundwater salinity. In addition, a review of the conditions of the resource and of the amount of water available for extraction was finalised in February 2006 followed by second study in 2007.
These reviews indicate that triggers in water table levels have been exceeded in Management Areas 1, 2A, 2B and 3, while groundwater salinity has increased beyond the limits (triggers) stipulated in the 2001 Water Allocation Plan in all management areas. Though water tables in Padthaway can be considered to be highly responsive to rainfall, overall, salinity values have continued to increase steadily over the last 10 years. In addition, the review has also indicated that in all management areas with the exception of management area 4, the level of allocation exceeds the amount of water available for extraction.
Further information on this study can be accessed from 'A New Understanding on the Level of Development of the Unconfined Tertiary Limestone Aquifer in the South East of South Australia' (DWLBC 2007/11) from the Water for Good website - http://www.waterforgood.sa.gov.au
The Padthaway Salt Accession study was initiated in 2003 by the then DWLBC and has revealed that there are two mechanisms behind the rising groundwater salinity in Padthaway:
- Clearance of native vegetation in the Naracoorte Ranges has lead to rising water tables and the leaching of the historical salt load in the soil into the groundwater. This salt has since then moved several kilometres westwards along the natural flow path of the groundwater, into the Padthaway Flat area.
- Irrigation recycling of drainage water: the project has shown that groundwater salinity increases under flood irrigation, while a significant amount of salt accumulates in the root zone under drip and spray irrigation. In addition, water is recycled along it’s flowpath towards the west and then the north of the PWA.
The project has indicated that although salt will continue to leach over the next decades, the salt store in the Naracoorte Ranges is finite and can be expected to be followed by fresher recharge. As a result, the study has identified maintenance of groundwater throughflow as a key groundwater management requirement.
Groundwater management in Padthaway – what’s changed?
The main policy changes now included in the 2009 Padthaway Water Allocation Plan are explained in the Information Sheets 1-3 (see links at the bottom of the page) posted on 3 September 2008 to all licensees and landholders in advance of 18 September 2008 community consultation, as well as in the Guide to the Development and Content of the 2009 Padthaway Water Allocation Plan, and include:
- Allocation of water according to the community-based proposal for allocation in the Padthaway Prescribed Wells Area
- New management areas proposed
- New trade rules
- Provisions for the protection of groundwater dependent ecosystems. cording
Sustainable levels of groundwater extraction
As a signatory of the National Water Initiative, South Australia is under the obligation to return all over-extracted and over-allocated systems to sustainable levels of extraction.
The board met with community and stakeholder groups, as well as the Padthaway Groundwater Management Committee to discuss and develop the best way to ensure resource sustainability, including reducing the level of demand on the resource.
As a result, the Padthaway Grape Growers Association and the Padthaway Flood Irrigators requested board support in the development of a community proposal to reduce demands on the resource. Subsequent discussions between the board and the then Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity (DWLBC) led to the Department engaging Resource and Environmental Management (REM) to carry out a project to determine an acceptable groundwater extraction limit for the Padthaway region.
REM began work in Padthaway in August 2007. The process included working with community, board and DWLBC representatives to set resource condition limits and discuss scenarios to run through a recently finalised groundwater model of the area, to determine the acceptable level of extraction. REM worked with community representatives, including the Padthaway Groundwater Management Committee (which includes members of the Padthaway Grape Growers Association and the Padthaway Flood Irrigators), as well as representatives of the Limestone Coast Wine Industry Council and the community-based Northern and Central Natural Resources Management Groups. The process provided these representatives with the opportunity to consult with the wider community during the discussions. Community members were also encouraged to contact the members of the Padthaway Groundwater Management Committee to put forward any comments they might have.
The numerical (3D) computer model of groundwater and salinity fluxes in the Padthaway region, has allowed the determination of a sustainable level of groundwater extraction. Together with community representatives, a value of 48,000 ML/annum has been selected as the Acceptable Level of Extraction.
Please refer to the Guide to the Development and Contents of the 2009 Padthaway Water Allocation Plan for more details.