Rural water

‘Rural water’ is water delivered to industries in rural and regional areas.

While rural water includes the use of water in the mining and energy industries, our previous investigations focused only on the use of water for irrigation.

Irrigation is used in water supply schemes throughout central and southern Queensland for cropping and pastures.

At the request of the Queensland Government, we investigate and recommend irrigation prices charged by two service providers:

  • Sunwater, a government-owned corporation that supplies water to irrigators in rural and regional Queensland (outside of south east Queensland)
  • Seqwater, a government statutory authority that supplies water to irrigators in south east Queensland.

The Queensland Government considers our recommendations and makes the final decision on irrigation prices.

Our investigations

There are two forms of irrigation schemes.

Bulk water supply schemes

Bulk water supply schemes supplement natural water resources by using dams and weirs to increase the yield and reliability of watercourses such as rivers and streams.

Dams and weirs can also be used to re-charge groundwater for use by irrigators.


Distribution systems

Distribution systems use a network of pipes and/or channels to deliver water to properties that are not necessarily adjacent to a watercourse.

Distribution systems can enable a greater geographical spread of irrigation districts and can facilitate common infrastructure such as mills and processing facilities.

Irrigation prices that we review generally take the form of a ‘two-part tariff’. This means that irrigators pay two types of prices:

Fixed tariffs

Fixed tariffs are paid according to the amount of water access entitlements (WAEs) that irrigators hold.

There are various forms of WAEs that give an irrigator the right to a portion of the available water within the irrigation scheme.

Irrigators that own WAEs pay fixed tariffs regardless of their actual water use.

Fixed tariffs are also know as Part A tariffs (in bulk water supply schemes) and Part C tariffs (in distribution systems).

Volumetric tariffs

Volumetric tariffs are charges paid per megalitre of actual water use by irrigators.

They are also known as Part B tariffs (in bulk water supply schemes) and Part D tariffs (in distribution systems).