Frequently Asked Questions

The answers to the following questions supplement other information regarding the NSW water metering framework, including the regulation and policy, available on the NSW Department of Industry website.

The questions relate to generic queries, metering thresholds, timeframes, telemetry and duly qualified persons.

General

What will the new framework achieve?

The new framework will result in real and positive change for water management in NSW. Water is a precious resource that needs to be properly managed for current and future generations.

We have heard from water users that they want clear rules. The new framework will significantly improve the standard and coverage of non-urban water meters in NSW by setting clear rules around who needs a meter and the standards that need to be met. The standards will ensure meters are accurate, tamper-proof and auditable.

Why is the government implementing this when there is a drought?

The drought emphasises how important it is for water to be taken fairly and according to the rules. The new metering framework is part of a long-term plan for better water management in NSW. Metering ensures that we know whether water is being taken according to the rules. The vast majority of water users do the right thing, and they want those who don’t to be held accountable.

The government recognises that the current drought conditions are making things tough for farmers. The Farm Innovation Fund (see www.raa.nsw.gov.au/assistance/) is an initiative to help NSW farmers by providing loans to meet the costs of carrying out capital works such a metering that benefit the long-term profitability of a business.

Who will carry out compliance in relation to the new metering requirements?

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) is responsible for compliance and enforcement of water laws in NSW. The document Metering regulations—NRAR compliance approach (available from industry.nsw.gov.au/water-reform/metering-framework) outlines NRAR’s approach to the new metering requirements. Any suspected breaches can be reported to the compliance hotline on 1800 633 362 or by email to water.compliance@nrar.nsw.gov.au).

Who will pay for my meter?

Water users will be responsible for the costs associated with buying, installing and maintaining their own meters.

What if I am not able to comply with the new metering requirements by my roll-out date because there is no water available with which to test my meter, or there is no duly qualified person available?

NRAR has released the document Metering regulations—NRAR compliance approach (available from NRAR compliance approach - metering regulations (PDF 320.8 KB)) fact sheet. NRAR expects water users to make arrangements well ahead of the commencement date to bring their equipment into compliance, and be able to demonstrate they have made every effort to comply with the new regulations.

How do the new metering requirements tie in with water resource plans and water sharing plans?

The new metering requirements will replace the metering requirements in water sharing plans. This means there will be a consistent and streamlined metering framework across NSW, rather than separate requirements for separate water sharing plan areas. Once the new requirements have taken effect, the metering provisions in water sharing plans will be removed.

Why won’t meters be government-owned?

Private ownership of meters provides clear compliance responsibilities and allows water users to invest in the metering infrastructure that best suits their needs. Transitioning existing government-owned meters to private ownership will ensure that there is a consistent framework across NSW. We recognise that some stakeholders have some concerns about this approach and we will continue to consult on this issue in 2019.

Metering thresholds

Do I need a meter?

If your work meets any of the four defined metering thresholds, you will be required to have metering equipment installed on the work. The fact sheet Overview of new requirements, available from industry.nsw.gov.au/water-reform/metering-framework, provides more information about metering thresholds. Further detailed information about metering thresholds is provided in Part 1 of the NSW Non-Urban Water Metering Policy, a copy of which is available from the web page listed above.

In addition, water users may be directed to install metering equipment under section 326 of the Water Management Act 2000.

Why have these metering thresholds been chosen?

The metering thresholds chosen will mean that over 95% of licensed infrastructure capacity will be metered.

We engaged an independent consultant to analyse different options for setting metering thresholds. The aim was to achieve the metering objectives while avoiding undue costs on small, low-risk users.

We also held two rounds of community consultation and used the feedback to help inform the final thresholds and other aspects of the metering framework.

How many meters will be affected in each year of the roll-out?

Based on best available data, around 1,260 surface water pumps of 500 mm and larger will need to have a compliant meter by 1 December 2019.

Around 7,600 additional works will need to have a compliant meter by 1 December 2020, 7,380 more by 1 December 2021 and another 6,000 by 1 December 2023.

Some of these works may already have an accurate existing meter, however it is likely that the majority will need a replacement meter to comply with the new metering requirements.

What do you mean by a 200 mm pump?

We mean the outlet diameter of the pump. This is the usual way people refer to pump size.

Shouldn’t all water users be metered?

The government is mindful of the need to ensure that the costs of regulating do not outweigh the overall benefits. Based on current market considerations, the benefits of metering do not outweigh the costs for those small users who represent only a very small proportion of take. The metering thresholds will be reviewed in five years against the objectives and the metering thresholds could be adjusted to include more works.

Why isn’t water taken under basic landholder rights (which includes stock and domestic rights) being metered?

The government recognises that water taken under basic landholder rights is an important issue and we will be consulting publicly on reasonable use guidelines in 2019.

Why isn’t floodplain harvesting being metered?

Measurement of floodplain harvesting is being addressed as part of the Healthy Floodplains Project being undertaken separately by the Department. Visit Healthy Floodplains project for more information about the floodplain harvesting monitoring and auditing strategy and consultation process.

Will the same standards apply to environmental water as water used for irrigation?

Yes. The metering requirements will apply equally to water taken for irrigation and the environment, provided the water is taken by a work and can be measured with a meter.

Will the same standards apply to Irrigation Corporations?

Metering requirements will apply to Irrigation Corporations at their offtake and not to their individual customers

Are there any exemptions?

Yes, there are permanent exemptions from the metering requirements for:

  • works solely used to take water under basic landholder rights
  • water take that is exempt from the requirement for a water access licence or water taken under a floodplain harvesting access licence
  • works granted an exemption by the minister because the take of water cannot be measured using a meter
  • surface water works marked as inactive on the water supply work approval.

I don’t have fixed or permanent pumping equipment. Do I still need to comply with the metering requirements? 

Yes, portable works are subject to the same standards as fixed and permanent works.

Will a groundwater extraction site that uses a spear-point system require a meter?

Yes, all spear points will need to be metered

Timeframes

Do the new metering requirements commence immediately? 

No, the new metering requirements will commence in a staged manner as follows:

  • 1 April 2019—for new and replacement meters. This will affect anyone needing to replace an existing meter or install a meter on or after 1 April 2019 because they are already legally required to have a meter installed and they have not yet installed a meter. The new faulty meter requirements also commence on 1 April 2019
  • 1 December 2019—for all surface water pumps 500 mm or larger
  • 1 December 2020—for all remaining works in the inland northern region
  • 1 December 2021—for all remaining works in the inland southern region
  • 1 December 2023—for all remaining works in the coastal regions.

To see which region you are in, see Attachment D of the NSW Non-Urban Water Metering Policy (available from industry.nsw.gov.au/water-reform/metering-framework), which lists the water sharing plans and Water Act 1912 licences within each region.

Should I plan to have my metering equipment installed ahead of time? 

We encourage all water users to become familiar with how the new metering requirements will apply to them, and to make arrangements well ahead of their commencement date to ensure that they are compliant by their roll-out date. You may choose to comply with the new requirements at any time before your roll-out date.

Meter standards

What type of meter do I need to install?

From 1 April 2019, all new and replacement meters must be pattern-approved (except for open channels), installed by a duly qualified person in accordance with Australian Standard 4747, and have tamper-evident seals and a data logger. Telemetry is also required for all surface water works, except pumps authorised to be less than 200 mm.

The Overview of new requirements fact sheet provides information about the meter standards. More detailed information is contained in Part 2 of the NSW Non-Urban Water Metering Policy. Both documents are available from industry.nsw.gov.au/water-reform/metering-framework.

Can I keep my existing meter?

Water users with existing meters will be allowed to keep their meters if they meet certain requirements. Users with works that meet the infrastructure size or multiple works thresholds will need to demonstrate, by their roll-out date, that the meter is pattern-approved and validated, or accurate. They will also need to install a data logger and tamper-evident seals, if not already installed.

All other users who are required to meter (but are below the infrastructure size or multiple works thresholds) will need to ensure their meter continues to operate properly. When it no longer operates properly, the meter will need to be replaced with a meter that meets the new meter standards.

The Preparing for the roll-out dates fact sheet provides guidance for water users with existing meters. Further information about the standards that apply to existing meters is contained in Part 2 of the NSW Non-Urban Water Metering Policy. Both documents are available from industry.nsw.gov.au/water-reform/metering-framework.

Where can I find a list of pattern-approved meters?

Are pattern-approved meters more accurate than mechanical meters?

Yes. Pattern-approved meters are factory tested to ensure they conform to national and NSW standards prior to installation. Each meter is issued with a certificate of calibration. The National Metering Standards have strict accuracy requirements of 2.5% under laboratory test conditions and 5% under field conditions.

When do I need to have my meter validated?

Metering equipment must be validated on installation, at five-yearly intervals (or every 12 months in the case of open channels) and in any other circumstances in which validation is required under the Australian Standard 4747.

What other maintenance requirements apply to my meter?

All meters, except existing meters below the infrastructure size and multiple works thresholds, must be maintained in accordance with the Maintenance Specifications 2018. Visit legislation.nsw.gov.au for more information. These specifications set out the maintenance that needs to be carried out, the frequency of maintenance, and whether the maintenance needs to be carried out by a duly qualified person or if it can be carried out by the holder of the approval or licence.

Telemetry

Do I need telemetry?

Telemetry is required for all surface water works, except surface water pumps authorised by the approval or entitlement to be less than 200 mm. Telemetry is not required for groundwater works. However you may choose to install telemetry equipment even if you are not required to do so, because it can help with on-farm water management and reduce your record-keeping requirements. For more information on the benefits of telemetry.

Users who are required to have telemetry will need to comply with the data-logging and telemetry specifications. These specifications are being developed and will be published on the NSW Department of Industry website by 1 April 2019.

Why did the government change the telemetry threshold?

We listened to the feedback received during the public consultation in August and September 2018 that in the current market, the benefits of telemetry do not outweigh the costs for smaller surface water users and for groundwater users.

The current telemetry threshold will reviewed in five years and the requirement for telemetry could be expanded then.

From 1 April 2019, all new and replacement meters will need to be ‘telemetry-ready’. This will help reduce the costs of retrofitting meters with telemetry, should the telemetry requirement be expanded down the track.

How can I install telemetry when I have mobile black spots on my property?

Telemetry coverage was discussed at our Industry Technical Forum held in August 2018. At the forum we heard from industry that there are cost effective technology options available to overcome communication black spots for telemetry.

The data and telemetry specifications are being developed and will be published by 1 April 2019. These specifications will set out the requirements for data collection, recording and storing, as well as the requirements for data transmission.

Duly qualified persons

Who is a duly qualified person?

A duly qualified person is a person with the qualifications, skills or expertise to carry out certain work in relation to metering equipment. The list of qualifications and skills for duly qualified persons is in Attachment E of the NSW Non-Urban Water Metering Policy (available from industry.nsw.gov.au/water-reform/metering-framework). There are different skills required for different activities.

Irrigation Australia can train and certify people as meter installers. There is a list of certified meter installers on Irrigation Australia’s website.

A certified meter installer or certified practicing hydrographer can perform the installation and maintenance of metering equipment for open channels.

Who needs to test my existing meter for accuracy?

Accuracy checking of existing meters must be carried out by a duly qualified person.

Who needs to install my meter?

Metering equipment must be installed by a duly qualified person in accordance with Australian Standard 4747.

Who can validate my meter?

Meter validation must be carried out by a duly qualified person.

Will there be enough duly qualified people to carry out the work?

We are working closely with Irrigation Australia and Training Services NSW to increase the number of duly qualified persons to do this work in time for the metering roll-out dates.

Is there a water meter validation certificate that a duly qualified person needs to use for meter validation or for accuracy checking?

The department is developing these forms and they will be available by 1 April 2019 on the department’s website. In the meantime, duly qualified persons (such as certified meter installers) may use their own forms.