Drought works exemptions

Recent drought conditions have placed significant pressures on water utilities to maintain water supplies to their local communities. The NSW Government recognises that in serious drought conditions, water utilities may need to seek additional sources of water.

To help meet the urgent need to maintain water supplies to their local communities, any relevant public authority can apply to NRAR for an exemption under clause 39A of the Water Management (General) Regulation 2018.

This is a short-term response to the current drought conditions in NSW, that provides an exemption from the requirement to hold a water supply work approval for the construction or use (or both) of a water supply work.

Under clause 39A, an exemption can only be granted if:

  • conditions of drought exist, and
  • the grant of the exemption is in the public interest given those conditions.

It does not authorise ongoing use of a water supply work and ceases to have effect once drought conditions no longer exist at the location of the work. In addition, a water access licence will still be required for any water taken unless otherwise exempt.