Friday, December 29, 2006

Leo Mahon started a thread dealing with Queensland water law on the Permaculture Research Institute site.

the thread

I am developing a rural property in queensland the smart state, and I have discovered that I am allowed to store in a dam 2.5 meg litres for domestic use, and 60,000 litres per annum per cow.

I cannot apply for a water license as no more are being issued in the area. While the land is being rehabilitated it is unstocked. I am planting saltbush for fodder, rainforest timber species as wind breaks etc, in all several thousand trees on a hundred acres.

If I use water from the dam to water the seedlings, I am breaking the law by stealing water that belongs to Sunwater Qld Gov, who may one day privatise and sell. By law I am only entitle to use stored water on the property for stock and domestic. It is illegal for me to establish a commercial nursery unless I buy in water or use roof water only. The land has its own watershed. The only water that flows on the property is rain that falls on the property. My only conclusion is that a change of law is urgently required.

If I change the species to free range poultry and lambs for instance, I will use a fraction of the water that cattle require.

If there are other people with an interest in this topic please contact

Leo Mahon
Director Permaculture Design Institute

Firstly, there is a typo in the original post, 60,000 litres per annum per cow should read 60,000 litres per cow. 20,000 litres per annum per cow is the figure used in the current version of the code.

The thread goes on to deal with using swales and the general direction of water policy changes.

I'll like to add some thoughts.

Been reading the Code for Self-assessable Development for Taking Overland Flow Water for Stock and Domestic Purposes. Even the title makes it sound like your taking government water. That the land and it's custodian have no entitlement. To me it's a natural justice issue too, the lands where the rain falls should get first bight at its water. That bight should be limited, but it should be first too.

Rumour has it that parts of the current code are not being enforced due to flawed assumptions. Too many people have run out of stock water too quickly.

That means they've been drawn up with too conservative assumptions!

The first version of the code didn't even allow for multi-year droughts, it assumed that dams would be refilled each summer. I've seen a dam built during this period, it last filled (& last overland flow) last February 06, it's getting pretty low now.

Is there a new code on the way? Third time lucky?

The 20,000 litres/annum for cattle and horses seems reasonable, not generous, but survivable. Leo, did I read somewhere that you intend to run sheep or goats? I'd use the stocking figure you expect to run when your system is mature as the basic for your total dam capacity calculations. The current code allows 4,000 litres/annum for sheep and goats.

The problem is in the Evaporation and Storage Factors. They are too conservative for pre global warming conditions. Add global warming means an extra margin is also needed (maybe 15 to 30%).

With regard to using water for raising plants for on-farm use, that's a grey area. It's not domestic (for use in the home & garden) but it's not a direct commercial use of water either. How do Landcare groups get their water? Leo, have you looked at the Code for Assessable Development for Operational Works for Taking Overland Flow Water? That seem to be the next stage after self-assessment. Not looked at it myself yet.

some of the codes

It also needs to be remembered that Australia is a common law country. That means that once a law (and its associated regulations) exist, a body of court rulings start building around it. So how the law reads may not be how it applies.

Give me back the old days, when what was important was how you caught the water, not how you used it! Darn technology.


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