Stock and Domestic Water

Stock and Domestic Water

Policy Position (Endorsed August 2017)

Of relatively negligible volumes, water used for stock and domestic (S&D) purposes is a basic landholder right with intrinsic limits and should not be tradeable, metered (unless voluntarily), nor subject to water pricing regimes. Take of water for S&D use should be prioritised over and not compromised by other competing consumptive uses in resource planning and management decisions. Licensing of S&D takes is only required where the resource is at risk of being overused.

Issue
As a requirement to sustain life, access to available water for S&D purposes is a basic landholder right and should not be limited, traded nor subject to water pricing regimes. Stock purposes means watering stock of a number that would normally be depastured on the land on which the water is, or is to be, used. Water used for S&D purposes is negligible compared to Queensland's total water use. Take of water for S&D use should be prioritised over and not compromised by other competing consumptive uses in resource planning and management decisions.

Background
Water for S&D purposes operates under a general authorisation under the Water Act 2000, where livestock purposes may not be limited by a water plan. Land owners may take water for S&D purposes from a dam on their land (overland flow harvest), or from an adjoining watercourse, lake or spring (including on land contiguous with the land adjoining the watercourse, lake or spring).

The definition of stock purposes means watering stock of a number that would normally be depastured on the land on which the water is, or is to be, used. As such it has intrinsic volume limits related to land capability. This concept of the grazing by livestock guides what is and what is not stock purposes, i.e. it does not include confined (intensive) feeding.

Water used for S&D purposes is negligible compared to Queensland's total water use. The long-term mean (1911 to 2015) runoff in Queensland is 79 mm*, equal to 136,190 GL in total across the state (1,723,936 km**). Queensland beef herd numbers totalled 11.2 million head in 2014/15 plus 2.2 million sheep and lambs**. Using annual DNRM stock water use allowances (20 and 4m3 respectively***), livestock use is in the order of 232 GL or just 0.17% of total runoff.

As a basic right with intrinsic limits, water used for S&D purposes should not be tradeable, metered (unless voluntarily), nor subject to water pricing regimes. It should be protected from other competing consumptive uses in resource planning and management decisions. This means licenses should not be required for S&D uses, such as from sub-artesian sources, unless the resource is or likely to be overused.

Where water resources are at risk of over-use, non-livestock demand should be managed using targeted regulation to ensure access to the share of the available resource is protected. New take relating to residential or rural-residential sub-division should be planned for and monitored so there is no risk of over use. Authorisation for takes for domestic purposes should not be expanded to the point that it has a negative impact on other users. This should be managed on a catchment by catchment basis. This includes the size of domestic gardens and their use for commercial (sale of product) or trading purposes.

*Regional water information, http://www.bom.gov.au/water/rwi/#sf_tt/001/2016, accessed 21 June 2017
**7121.0 - Agricultural Commodities, Australia, 2014-15, ABS
***Stock or domestic allowance notification form, DNRM, 2016.

Other relevant information

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Stock and Domestic Water

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