What is a bulk entitlement?
A bulk entitlement is a right to use and supply water which may be granted to water corporations, the Victorian Environmental Water Holder and other specified bodies (e.g. electricity companies, see section 34).
Bulk entitlements are issued along with a range of conditions and obligations set out under Part 4 of the Water Act 1989. Bulk entitlements can be held in relation to water in a waterway, water in storage works of a water corporation and groundwater (section 36). To date, bulk entitlements have generally covered surface water systems.
A bulk entitlement is usually specified in one of two ways:
- "source" bulk entitlement – is an entitlement to harvest water directly from a water source and which typically describes the different sharing arrangements at that source. Source entitlements can cover multiple storages operated in an integrated way within a river basin.
- "delivery" bulk entitlement – is an entitlement to be supplied water from another water corporation's dam or within a system which is regulated by the works of another corporation.
A bulk entitlement is granted through an order from the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water or the Governor in Council and published in the Victoria Government Gazette.
Bulk entitlements can be created in two main ways:
- conversion – an existing right to water can be converted into a Bulk Entitlement (section 47); or
- grant – a new bulk entitlement can be granted by the Minister for for Environment, Climate Change and Water (section 43).
Who can hold a bulk entitlement?
Bulk entitlements can be held by water corporations and other specified bodies defined in the Water Act 1989.
Bulk entitlements may be traded on a temporary or permanent basis. The conditions for trading a bulk entitlement are set out in section 46 of the Water Act 1989.
What rights and responsibilities are granted under a bulk entitlement?
A bulk entitlement is a right to an amount of water that can be taken or stored under specific conditions/specifications up to a maximum volume. Bulk entitlements may set out:
- rules about when water can be taken and in what volume (section 43);
- the reliability associated with the entitlement;
- a policy for restricting the entitlement when the water resource is limited (e.g. section 141);
- obligations to release flows for environmental uses;
- obligations to release flows for primary entitlement holders (section 43);
- obligations to contribute to the payment of operation and maintenance costs (section 43); and
- metering, accounting and reporting obligations (section 43).