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NSW Water Reforms Public Consultation Period Open

The NSW Government is currently undertaking a review of water management within the State, in response to allegations of water theft made by Four Corners in July, 2017. A public consultation period is now open regarding these reforms, which will include a public meeting at the Max Centre in Moree on Tuesday the 27th of March, from 2-5pm.

Reforms will change how water use is managed in NSW.

As part of the review, the Government is seeking to make changes to the following:

Metering Requirements

Questions to be asked include:

Who should be metered?

What thresholds should be in place to determine whether a pump requires to be metered?

How will metering be reported?

The Government is moving to phase out log books and self-reporting, and put in place requirements for pumps to capture data of extracted flows, which can then be accessed remotely by WaterNSW.

Consideration of phasing the implementation of reforms

The Government recognises that reforms cannot be implemented immediately, and so are planning to phase in the reforms over the next five years, targeting large irrigators first.

Who should own meters?

Should water meters be privately owned/maintained, or owned/maintained by the Government, or some combination of the two?

Floodplain Harvesting

The review will question whether rainfall runoff harvesting should be licensed, or should be exempt from licensing.

It is proposed that the volume of water taken by floodplain harvesting should be monitored, with monitoring to be implemented by a staged approach over the next few years. Monitoring will occur through observations of the volumes of water held in on-farm storages.

Transparency Measures

The Government is moving to establish a public register, where information regarding water use (including compliance measures) in the State is made available to the public. Questions asked consider issues of privacy, and defining what information should be released and how it should be released to ensure transparency whilst protecting landholders.

The Government further recognises that whilst some information is already publicly available, it is not easily accessible, and so will work towards improving the accessibility of this information.

The Government also recognises that the rules regarding current water allocations are complex and confusing for landholders, particularly in unregulated systems. It is recognised that there is a need to improve the clarity of extraction rules for landholders.

Environmental Flows Management

As part of the review, the Government will also consider making changes to environmental flow allocations, to ensure that environmental flow criteria are met.

Further Information

Further information regarding the water reforms, and the public consultation process, is available here.

If you are interested to know more about these changes, would like to understand how the changes may impact you or your business, or would like help in preparing a submission to lodge as part of the consultation process, contact SMK Consultants today on (02) 6752 1021.

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