Water laws the Australian Government administers include the:
- Water Act 2007 (Cth)
- Water Regulations 2008 (Cth)
- Water Charge Rules 2010 (Cth)
- Water Market Rules 2009 (Cth)
- Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005 (Cth)
Water Act 2007
The Water Act 2007 (Cth) seeks to:
- return to environmentally sustainable levels of extraction for Murray–Darling Basin water resources
- give effect to relevant international agreements
- promote the use and management of Basin water resources in a way that optimises economic, social and environmental outcomes
- protect, restore and provide for the ecological values of the Basin
- ensure information is available on Australia’s water resources.
Key features of the Water Act include:
- a national framework to manage Basin water resources
- establishment of the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA)
- establishment of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder
- requirements for a Murray–Darling Basin Plan prepared by the MDBA
- a regulatory role for the Inspector‑General of Water Compliance
- a role for the Bureau of Meteorology to compile and deliver comprehensive information on Australia’s water resources
- a role for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to develop and enforce water charges and water market rules
- a role for the Productivity Commission to report on the effectiveness of implementation of the Basin Plan and achievement of NWI outcomes.
The Water Act is administered by the Commonwealth water minister. The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment advises the minister in relation to administration of the Act.
The Australian Government has amended the Water Act several times since its commencement, in response to emerging water management challenges and following an independent review conducted in 2014 that assessed its operations and achievements against its objectives.
Water Regulations 2008
The Water Regulations 2008 sit under the Water Act and guide how the provisions of the Water Act will be applied. For example, the regulations specify the water information that certain organisations must give to the Bureau of Meteorology in its water information role under the Water Act, and the time and format in which it must be given.
Water charge and water market rules
The Water Act provides for the Water Charge Rules 2010 and Water Market Rules 2009.
The Water Charge Rules provide transparency in charges and costs for customers of monopoly water infrastructure providers across the Basin.
The Water Market Rules ensure irrigators can permanently transform their irrigation right into a statutory water access entitlement.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission monitors regulated charges and compliance and enforces these rules.
Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005
The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards scheme is a partnership between the Australian Government, state and territory governments and industry. The scheme reduces demand for drinking water by informing consumers about the water efficiency of household appliances, fitting and fixtures at the point of sale.
The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005 provides the legislative authority, supported by subordinate instruments and complementary legislation enacted in all states and territories.
More information about the scheme can be found at waterrating.gov.au.