Frequently Asked Questions

The NSW Government has announced it will adjust the first three start dates for the new metering rules. The government remains committed to rolling out the metering rules. However the lack of water due to the severe drought conditions will make it impossible for most water users to meet their new obligations by the current deadline. The Government is also carefully considering the other feedback it heard during the recent metering roadshow, and will provide its response soon. See the ‘metering roadshow’ page for more information.

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 166.4 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. The NSW Government remains committed to transitioning all state-owned meters to private ownership. It will consult with affected water users on the design of a transfer scheme. More information will be provided soon.

Metering thresholds

Do I need a meter?

You will be required to have metering equipment installed if your work meets any of the four defined metering thresholds: (1) already required to meter or measure; (2) infrastructure size; (3) multiple works on the same licence, approval or landholding that meet the capacity threshold; (4) at-risk groundwater sources.

Use our interactive metering tool to understand if the metering rules apply to your works and what you need to do to comply with the rules.

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

Is there an easy way for me to check if I need a meter?

We have developed an interactive metering tool to help water users understand and remain compliant with the current metering rules. You can access the tool online.

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 2020 (adjusted start date).

Around 7,600 additional works will need to have a compliant meter by 1 December 2021 (adjusted start date), 7,380 more by 1 December 2022 (adjusted start date) 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?

The diameter of the pump outlet is the size used to determine the metering requirements for that work.

The size of the pump listed on the statement of approval is the size used to determine whether the authority holder meets the metering threshold. If there is no size stated, the work will be required to be metered and will require telemetry.

If the pump size is incorrect, or not stated, water users can amend the work approval to record the correct size by contacting the relevant licensing authority.

Shouldn’t all water users be metered?

It is important to ensure that the costs of regulating water do not outweigh the overall benefits. Based on current market considerations, the benefits of metering do not outweigh the costs for small users that use 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?

Water taken under basic landholder rights is an important issue and we will consult publicly on this matter.

Why isn’t floodplain harvesting being metered?

Measurement of floodplain harvesting is a separate project being addressed as part of the Healthy Floodplains Project. For more information about the floodplain harvesting monitoring and auditing strategy and consultation process visit monitoring and auditing.

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?

The metering requirements will apply to Irrigation Corporations at their offtake. The metering requirements will not apply to individual users taking water within an irrigation corporation’s area of operations unless they are directly taking water from a water source.

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.

How do the metering requirements apply to gravity-fed pipes without pumps?

Gravity-fed pipes will require a meter with tamper evident seals, a data logger and telemetry by the appropriate regional roll out date for the water supply work.

How do the metering thresholds apply to wells?

All wells must be metered.

If there are multiple water users taking water from one work (for example, a well), which metering threshold will apply?

If multiple water users are taking water from the same work, and that one work meets the threshold, then the obligation to meet the metering requirements will rest with the approval holder.

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. Anyone replacing an existing meter or installing a new meter on or after 1 April 2019 must install a pattern- approved meter (except for open channels) which is installed by a duly qualified person in accordance with Australian Standard 4747, with 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.
  • New faulty meter requirements commenced on 1 April 2019. Water users must notify WaterNSW within 24 hours of becoming aware that a meter is not working properly or has stopped working, even if they are not taking water
  • (Adjusted start date) 1 December 2020—for all surface water pumps 500 mm or larger
  • (Adjusted start date) 1 December 2021—for all remaining works in the inland northern region
  • (Adjusted start date) 1 December 2022—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.

How can water users with surface water pumps over 1200 mm comply with the metering requirements?

There are approximately 18 surface water pumps over 1200mm in NSW. Currently there are no pattern-approved meters over 1200 mm, although there are meters in this size category that are currently undergoing testing for pattern approval.

The department will continue to monitor this situation closely.

There are no pattern approved meters for open channels; how can water users with those works comply?

Metering equipment for open channels does not need to be pattern-approved if:

  • before the metering equipment is installed, the proposed design of the installation is certified by a duly qualified person as compliant with the relevant international or Australian standard, and
  • the metering equipment is validated at least every 12 months.

Authority holders with open channel systems must be compliant by their regional 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.

Use our interactive metering tool to understand if the metering rules apply to your works and what you need to do to comply with the rules.

Can I keep my existing meter?

Water users with existing meters will be allowed to keep their meters if they meet certain requirements. Users 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.

Use our interactive metering tool to understand if the metering rules apply to your works and what you need to do to comply with the rules.

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 2019 (PDF 147.2 KB). 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. Telemetry equipment can help with on-farm water management and reduce your record-keeping requirements so may be of benefit even if you are not required to do so.

Users with surface water pumps 500mm and above, and users who install a new or replacement meter on a surface water work (except pumps less than 200mm) are required to comply with the data-logging and telemetry specifications by the adjusted start date of 1 December 2020.

All other users with surface water works (except pumps less than 200mm) are required to comply with the data-logging and telemetry specifications by the regional roll-out date.

More information about telemetry, including the Data Logging and Telemetry Specifications 2019 is available on our website.

Why isn’t groundwater required to be telemetered as part of this framework? 

We listened to the feedback received during the public consultation in August and September 2018. We heard 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 be reviewed in five years and the requirement for telemetry could be adjusted.

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

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.

Can water users access their data via telemetry?

Water users will be able to access their data through a private webpage after it is uploaded to the cloud platform. The data is uploaded once a day.

Can water users use third party telemetry systems to connect to the data acquisition service? 

We recognise that many water users have already installed ‘on farm’ telemetry systems to help monitor and manage water use.

We are exploring options to connect these systems to the data acquisition service while maintaining an appropriate level of security.

Who pays for the ongoing costs of telemetry? 

Water users will be responsible for the costs of buying, installing and maintaining all metering equipment, including the meter, data logger, a sim card and monthly telemetry subscription.

How will telemetry manufacturers update their software when the data acquisition service goes live? 

We are investigating the best approach to ensure that the data acquisition service will remain secure while allowing manufacturers to update their software.

How are the devices being tested for inclusion on the compatible devices list? 

We have designed the data acquisition service to be supportive of an open market.
The department has published the following technical standards to allow vendors to develop solutions that are compatible with the DAS:

The department will publish a list of field solutions are compatible with the DAS functional and security requirements on its website before the DAS goes live. This list will help duly qualified persons and water users identify devices that can connect to the DAS.

The department has, and will continue to, engage with vendors during the design and rollout of the DAS to give them the opportunity to participate in this new market.

Tamper-evident seals

What is classified as tampering?

Under the Water Management Act 2000, a person may be found guilty of an offence if they interfere with, damage, destroy or disconnect any metering equipment that has been installed in connection with a water management work. A person may interfere with metering equipment by unsealing any sealed component, blocking any part of the equipment, attaching a device that may affect the operation of the equipment, or disconnecting the equipment from its power source.

A higher offence may apply if the tampering is intentional or reckless.

Do tamper-evident seals need to have a seal number? 

Yes. Each tamper-evident seal should have a unique number. Duly qualified persons validating metering equipment will record the seal number on the validation form.

Will the government make and issue tamper-proof seals?

We are considering the best approach for tamper-evident seals. Duly qualified persons should continue to operate as they have done to date – by installing tamper-evident seals which ensure the integrity of the meter. We will inform stakeholders if current arrangements change.

What measures are in place to stop someone from cutting off a tamper-evident seal and replacing it with another one?

Under the metering requirements, the number of the tamper-evident seal must be recorded by a duly qualified person on the metering equipment’s validation form. This record will be incorporated into a register that the department will use to check seal numbers.

Meter tampering is an offence under the Water Management Act 2000.

A duly qualified person must notify the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) if they know or reasonably suspect any tampering of  any metering equipment they are installing or are carrying out work on.

It is an offence for a duly qualified person to fail to notify in these circumstances under the Water Management Act 2000.

You can contact NRAR on 1800 633 362 during business hours or by email at nrar.enquiries@nrar.nsw.gov.au

Will there be alarms on the door switches of telemetry units or will tamper-proofing apply only to components within telemetry units?

We will provide more information on the tamper proofing requirements for each specific device setup as part of its list of compatible devices.

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.

There is a list of certified practising hydrographers on Australian Hydrographers Association website

How can water users find a duly qualified person? 

Water users can find a list of:

  • certified meter installers on the Irrigation Australia website—www.irrigationaustralia.com.au
  • certified practising hydrographers on the Australian Hydrographer Association website to assist with open channel design and installations.—aha.net.au.

Who needs to test my existing meter for accuracy?

Accuracy testing 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.

Does a duly qualified person need to be physically present to install/validate a meter? 

Yes, a duly qualified person must either physically install/validate the metering equipment or supervise the installation/validation of the metering equipment on-site.

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 available throughout NSW 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?

Duly qualified  persons who carry out work on metering equipment in accordance with the regulations must complete the following certificates to:

Duly qualified persons must give the completed certificate to the person for whom the work is done.

Water users must provide a copy of the completed certificate to Department of Industry, using the address shown on the certificate within 28 days of receiving it and must keep the certificate for 5 years.

Offences apply for duly qualified persons and water users who do not comply with the requirements.

When does the water user need to provide the  report to the department to keep an existing meter? 

A water user wanting to keep their existing metering equipment must provide the report to the department before their relevant roll-out date.

The report must attach one the following supporting certificates:

  • If the metering equipment is pattern-approved, a copy of a validation certificate provided by a duly qualified person.
  • If the metering equipment is not pattern-approved, a copy of:
  • the manufacturer’s certificate showing the equipment is +/-2.5% in the factory and a copy of the existing validation provided by a duly qualified person, or
  • the ‘Non-urban water meter—certificate of accuracy for existing meter (not pattern-approved)’ provided by a duly qualified person, certifying the maximum permissible error of the equipment does not exceed +/- 5 % in the field.

Can a duly qualified person validate their own work? 

Yes. If a duly qualified person must tick the checkbox on the department’s validation form to indicate they are validating their own metering equipment.

Can a duly qualified person access meter data on-site for maintenance purposes? 

Yes. Duly qualified persons are allowed to read meter data on-site for maintenance purposes.

Who is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the validation certificate supplied to the customer by the duly qualified person? 

The responsibility remains with the authority/approval holder to ensure that their metering equipment remains accurate. This extends to any forms or certificates completed by duly qualified persons.

When do forms completed by a duly qualified person need to be provided to the customer? 

A duly qualified person should provide the validation form as soon as practical after the work is carried out.

The authority/approval holder has 28 days from the date it was completed to provide the form to the department.

How will another duly qualified person know if a meter has failed a validation? 

We recognise that accessing historical validation certificates can help duly qualified persons perform their functions.

We encourages duly qualified persons to ask water users for a copy of their previous validation certificates before going on-site.

We are considering options for making these certificates available to duly qualified persons while protecting the privacy of water users.

Faulty meters

What happens if telemetry stops working? 

We are designing the telemetry system so that it notifies water users by email when their telemetry fails.

If a water user becomes aware that the telemetry equipment connection is not working properly or has stopped working, they need to report it within 24 hours to WaterNSW using their online Section91I form, available at WaterNSW.

If a meter fails and it is not being used, does the water user still need to notify the department, or can they wait until they want to take water?

Water users must notify WaterNSW within 24 hours of becoming aware that a meter is not working properly or has stopped working, even if they are not taking water, using their online form available at WaterNSW.

Engagement activities

What is the government doing to inform unqualified meter installers and validators of the new metering requirements?

Together with Irrigation Australia Limited and the Australian Hydrographers Association, we are working to better inform industry representatives of the metering reforms.

To increase awareness of the role of duly qualified persons we are publishing online materials, participating in upcoming agricultural trade fairs and field days and holding workshops and information sessions.

Information about the department’s upcoming activities will be regularly updated on our website.

What is the role of WaterNSW’s customer field officers as part of the metering framework?

More information on the roles and responsibilities of the four water management agencies in NSW is available in the ‘Roles of water management agencies in NSW’ fact sheet available from the department’s website