FAMILY First MLC Robert Brokenshire says a battle is looming this year on the NRM and the "levying of rainfall".
He is preparing documents to move an amendment to the Government's NRM (Review) Amendment Bill so that the Government cannot impose a levy on groundwater, rainwater, or water collected for dams.
"Farmers pay all that money when they buy the land," he said.
"They pay more because it's got the bore water, or it's got the dam catchment."
Mr Brokenshire says the NRM Act 2004 provides for the government to put a levy or "tax" on collected rainwater, even if current government policy is not to apply it to stock and domestic water or collection under 5 megalitres.
"If you look at the legislation in the way it is written, and the advice I've received from legal advice, they could actually charge a tax on any rainwater tank, irrespective of size," he said.
"Of course, it would be political suicide, but the technicalities are there to do it."
Section 101(13) of the bill states: "A levy cannot be imposed under this section with respect to the taking of water for domestic purposes or for watering stock that are not subject to intensive farming."
Mr Brokenshire says too much was left for interpretation in the meaning of 'domestic purposes' and 'intensive farming' and wanted amendments that categorically ruled out a levy for collected water.
But a Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources spokesperson said the Act did not leave any opening for levies to be imposed on any water taken from a rainwater tank or a dam used only for stock and domestic purposes.
"In SA an authorisation is in place so that anyone using less than 1500 kilolitres of roof runoff per annum, for any purpose, can do so without the need for a licence or meter," she said.
"The authorisation ensures that small commercial users, such as bed-and-breakfasts, can continue their operations without the need for a water licence, while the capture of volumes of roof runoff greater than 1500kL by large enterprises is managed through the licensing process."
The Government first introduced the Bill to Parliament in 2011 but gave up it after it was deemed not to have support in the Legislative Council.
It is expected to reintroduce the amendments in April.
*Full report in Stock Journal, April 4 issue, 2013.