The final report by the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) of Western Australia in its inquiry into water resource management and planning charges has been released, recommending a suite of principles for cost recovery by the Department of Water.


The ERA was asked to conduct the inquiry in April 2009 to provide options and recommendations for the recovery of the water resource planning and management expenses incurred by the Department of Water; and regulatory arrangements for the setting of service standards for the water resource manager, the setting of the charges and the subsequent recovery of those charges from water users.


The ERA found that one area where the Department was expending too much effort was in licence renewals, and that, of the Department's annual budget of $108 million, around $14 million could be recovered by charging private parties for new license applications and renewals. However, it recommended that any charges for allocation management and planning activities be deferred until the introduction of the new water resources legislation, currently being developed to consolidate the seven different Acts governing water resource management and planning in Western Australia and to introduce reforms that are consistent with the National Water Initiative.


Once the new legislation and statutory water allocation plans are in place, annual charges for water allocation planning and the ongoing management of water should be set on a regional basis, for each water allocation plan area.


The ERA report is available at