Program to improve the measurement of overland flow
The Queensland Government, in collaboration with the Australian Government and other Basin state governments, is working to improve compliance and enforcement practices across the Murray-Darling Basin.
The overland flow measurement program will improve how we measure the take of overland flow water across the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin (QMDB).
It is one of the initiatives of the Rural Water Futures program, which is helping drive more transparent and sustainable rural water management across the state.
Overland flow is water that runs across the land after rainfall or flooding, or after it rises to the surface naturally from underground.
Why measure overland flow?
Overland flows are an important contributor to the flow of river systems.
Up to now, it has been very difficult to measure how much overland flow water has been taken. Overland flow water entitlements are metered in only one sub-catchment (the Lower Balonne), and the metering is limited to measuring water levels in privately owned on‑farm storages.
Having only storage water level measurements makes it difficult to assess compliance against an overland flow water licence as there are multiple other variables that require consideration (e.g. on-farm operation, take under other entitlements and climate).
A new overland flow measurement standard and policy are being developed. This will include an improved approach that will capture these variables and enable the continuation of water level measurement of storages as an alternative to conventional metering at the point of take, which may incur significant additional costs to the water entitlement holder.
Improved measurement of overland flow will provide transparency and information to support future planning activities across the Basin.
Licensing and measurement of overland flow in the QMDB
Up until 2000, overland flows were not explicitly managed in the QMDB.
Licensing of overland flow works started in these areas in the mid-2000s and has been completed in the Lower Balonne sub-catchment area. A third of the works are currently licensed in the Border Rivers.
The metered overland flow licences in the Lower Balonne will be reviewed as part of the program.
The Border Rivers and Moonie water plan (2019) commits to measuring the relevant take of overland flow water by 31 December 2022. Improvements to measurement will help meet this commitment, while improving monitoring and compliance.
We engaged a consultant to evaluate how overland flow water is managed and measured in Queensland and other Australian jurisdictions and to recommend an improved measurement framework. The consultant provided us with:
- a proposed measurement standard
- a fit-for-purpose measurement methodology to determine daily, annual and event-based take of overland flow water
- recommendations on reporting, data transfer, compliance and auditing
- a review of technology options for measuring overland flow.
The consultant's proposals and recommendations are informing the development of relevant sections of Queensland’s non-urban water metering policy.
This, along with an overland flow measurement standard, will detail minimum requirements based on:
- the type of entitlement or authorisation
- appropriate measurement for the risk profile of the water resource (e.g. extraction thresholds, users and environmental sensitivity)
- grandfathering arrangements for existing measurement.
From June 2020, we will be consulting with industry associations, peak bodies, key regional stakeholders, water users and other jurisdictions including New South Wales and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
Please check here regularly for updates.
|Publication of the program for improved measurement of overland flow||30 June 2019|
|Consultancy on overland flow measurement standard and risk-based overland flow measurement program findings delivered||November 2019|
|Development of overland flow measurement policy and standards commenced||January 2020|
|Phase 1 of measurement program complete: measurement for on-farm storage water levels in the Border Rivers, Moonie and Lower Balonne sub-catchments standardised||31 December 2022|
|Phase 2 of measurement program complete: water balance derivation technique to determine overland flow water volumes taken implemented||November 2025|
- Read about water management in the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin.
- Read more about water metering in Queensland.
- Find out how overland flow is currently managed in Queensland.
- View the Border Rivers and Moonie water plan and the Condamine and Balonne water plan.
Last reviewed 02 November 2020