Strengthened water measurement

Measuring water take is fundamental to improving how we manage this important resource.

Benefits of accurately measuring water

Accurate and timely water measurement provides benefits to communities, businesses and the environment.

Water users who know how much they use can improve their water use efficiency and reduce their costs.

Knowing how much water is being used across the state allows government to make better decisions about the allocation of available resources. Where we know water is underutilised, we can make it available to support businesses.

Accurate measurement can also help ensure water take complies with requirements put in place to manage environmental flows.

More accurate and timely information puts us in a better position to identify and respond to compliance breaches and reassures the community that water is being managed fairly and sustainably.

How we are improving measurement

We have published a policy that strengthens the way non-urban water take (PDF, 2.1MB) is measured and reported across Queensland.

This policy has been developed in consultation with peak bodies and industry groups, water users and the community.

Read about the consultation and the feedback received (PDF, 980.5KB).

Implementation of the policy will :

  • enable increased coverage and standard of metering
  • provide for farm scale measurement of overland flow
  • provide timely and accurate data on water take
  • enable fit for purpose compliance and enforcement.

Measurement requirements in Queensland’s interim water meter standard for non-urban metering have been strengthened to align with the policy. This will ensure that ongoing metering activities, such as meter revalidation, will also meet the strengthened measurement requirements set out in the policy.

Legislative changes

The Water Legislation Amendment Bill (2022) (the Bill) contains changes to the Water Act 2000 to support the implementation of the measurement policy. Find out more about the Bill.

Changes to the Water Act 2000 introduced by the Water Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 (the Bill) by the Hon Glenn Butcher MP, Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Minister for Water were passed on 14 September 2023. These changes establish the head of power in the Water Act 2000 for the strengthened measurement requirements.

Associated amendments to the Water Regulation 2016 to provide the operational detail for the strengthened measurement requirements are also required to support full implementation of the policy. These amendments are currently being developed. Once completed, the Water Act amendments and Water Regulation amendments will commence together to provide the regulatory framework for implementing the strengthened measurement requirements. A date for commencement of these changes is yet to be determined.

The State Development and Regional Industries Committee reviewed the Bill as part of Parliamentary Committee process. The committee report and government response to the report are available at the committee’s webpage.

Risk-based approach

The policy will be applied and implemented using a risk-based approach and accounting for government commitments and water plan requirements.

This means that new measurement requirements will be implemented first in areas where the resource is at the highest risk. For example, areas where water resources are fully, or near fully allocated will be a priority, including in the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin.

This approach is explained in more detail in the implementation plan (PDF, 660.3KB) that supports delivery of the measurement policy. It clarifies how the measurement policy will be implemented, including timeframes and priorities for new metering.

The metering implementation schedule included in the plan will be updated to reflect any changes to timeframes and to list additional priority areas identified for new metering over time.

The department has committed to reporting annually on progress implementing our strengthened non-urban water measurement policy.

A risk assessment of water resource pressure is being used by the department to inform the measurement program and also the following:

  • prioritisation of compliance effort across the state
  • prioritisation of the water planning forward work program
  • prioritisation of effort for aquatic ecosystem monitoring across the state
  • review of surface water and groundwater monitoring networks.

Our risk-based approach is guided by a state-wide risk assessment of water pressure conducted by the department in 2018.

You can read a summary of the risk assessment (PDF, 252.7KB) .

Projects and timelines

Current projects

(*initiatives receiving Commonwealth funding)

Program to improve the measurement and accounting of take of overland flowFrom 2022
Subsidising telemetry for water users in the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin 2022–2024
Implement improved measurement of large-take, high-risk water entitlements in the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin From 2022
Implement the strengthened metering policy using timeframes that consider water resource pressure and drought implications From 2022

Australian Government

The Queensland Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water (DRDMW) gratefully acknowledges the Australian Government’s financial contribution to the Rural Water Futures Program through the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and the Murray-Darling Basin Communities Investment Package, delivered under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan by the Queensland DRDMW, through funding from the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

Completed projects

Develop a strengthened non-urban water measurement policy (PDF, 2.1MB) to, in the first instance, improve the standard and application of metering Completed May 2022
Implement and evaluate a telemetry trial in the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin to identify cost effective, accurate telemetry devices and effective transmission options and costs Completed March 2022
Comprehensive review of Queensland’s existing non-urban water metering policy and standard Completed February 2019
Statewide risk assessment of water measurement and monitoring activities based on the pressure on the water resource in each catchment Completed February

Last updated: 12 Oct 2023