Frequently Asked Questions

The answer to the following questions supplement other information regarding the NSW Water metering framework, including the regulation and policy which are available on the overview of the non-urban water metering framework.

General

What will the metering framework achieve?

The metering 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.

The 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 metering framework is part of the Government’s 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 Department of Primary Industries Drought Hub contains information about the drought, including financial assistance. View a summary of available financial assistance.

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

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) is responsible for compliance and enforcement of water laws in NSW. NRAR’s compliance approach outlines NRAR’s approach to the metering rules. Any suspected breaches can be reported to the compliance hotline on 1800 633 362 or by email to water.compliance@nrar.nsw.gov.au.

What if I am not able to comply with the new metering rules 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?

The Government has amended the metering rules to adjust the first three start dates due to a lack of water in the severe drought conditions. The start dates are:

  • 1 December 2020—for all surface water pumps 500 mm or larger
  • 1 December 2021—for all remaining works in the inland northern region
  • 1 December 2022—for all remaining works in the inland southern region
  • 1 December 2023—for all remaining works in the coastal regions.

NRAR has also released its compliance approach which explains how it will treat instances of non-compliance. NRAR expects water users to make arrangements well ahead of their metering start date to bring their equipment into compliance, and be able to demonstrate they have made every effort to comply with the metering rules.

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

The metering rules will replace any metering or measuring 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 metering rules have taken effect, the metering provisions in water sharing plans will be removed.

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

Based on best available data, the numbers of works that will need to have a compliant meter by the roll-out date are:

  • 1,260 surface water pumps 500mm and larger - by 1 December 2020
  • 7,600 additional works - by 1 December 2021
  • 7,380 additional works - by 1 December 2022
  • 6,000 additional works  - by 1 December 2023.

Note: some of these works may already have a compliant meter installed.

What if the pump size is not stated on my work approval?

If there is no size stated on your work approval, the work will be required to be metered and will require telemetry. Water users can amend the work approval to record the correct size by contacting their relevant licensing authority.

WaterNSW customers should apply through WaterNSW  and local government water authorities and other government customers should apply through the Natural Resource Access Regulator

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

The NSW Government recognises that water taken under basic landholder rights is an important issue and it has committed to 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 metering rules apply to licensed environment water?

Yes. The metering rules will apply equally to licensed 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 metering rules apply to Irrigation Corporations?

The metering rules will apply to Irrigation Corporations at their offtake. The metering rules 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 rules 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
  • works tagged as inactive on the authority
  • works that are not nominated by an access licence – for example ‘on-farm- works that are used to convey water that has already been taken from a water source.

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

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

Do the metering rules apply to gravity-fed pipes without pumps?

Yes, gravity-fed pipes will need to be metered and will need to be fitted with tamper evident seals, a data logger and telemetry by the roll out date.

Do the metering rules apply to wells?

Yes, all wells will need to be metered.

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

If a work meets any of the metering thresholds, it will need to be metered. For example, even if a bore does not meet the infrastructure size threshold (because it is less than 200mm in diameter) it will still need to be metered if it meets the multiple works threshold. Our interactive metering tool will help you to understand whether the metering rules apply to the work and what you need to do to comply with the rules.

Timeframes

Do the metering rules commence immediately?

No, the new metering rules 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 from 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 will also be required for all surface water works, except pumps authorised to be less than 200 mm from 1 December 2020.
  • 1 December 2020—for all surface water pumps 500 mm or larger
  • 1 December 2021—for all remaining works in the inland northern region
  • 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.

Metering standards

What type of meter do I need to install?

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.

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 a data logger and tamper-evident seals. From 1 December 2020 telemetry is also required for all surface water works, except pumps authorised to be less than 200 mm.

The MDBA has published a list of pattern approved non-urban water meters in November 2019. This list is being updated regularly when new meters become pattern-approved.

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 either pattern-approved and validated, or accurate. They will also need to install a data logger and tamper-evident seals, if not already installed. Telemetry is required for all surface water works (except pumps less than 200mm)

We have developed this [guidance note] to help water users and duly qualified persons understand what needs to be done to keep a non-pattern approved meter. Also see ‘Keeping a non-pattern approved meter’ on the metering requirements and specifications page.

You can also 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?

The MDBA has published a list of ‘pattern approved and seeking approval non-urban water meters ’in November 2019. This list is being updated regularly when new meters become pattern-approved.

Are pattern-approved meters more accurate than mechanical meters?

Yes. Pattern-approved meters are factory tested to ensure they conform to national 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 (for example any maintenance work that is carried out that requires breaking the seal).

What other maintenance requirements apply to my meter?

All meters must be maintained in accordance with the Maintenance Specifications 2019 (PDF 147.2 KB). 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 carried out by the licence or approval holders.

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.

For those works requiring telemetry, it must be connected by:

  • 1 December 2020 – surface water pumps 500mm and above, and new or replacement meters on surface water works (except pumps less than 200mm)
  • the regional rollout date - all other surface water works (except pumps less than 200mm).

Telemetry devices must comply with the Data Logging and Telemetry Specifications 2019. The department has tested a number of telemetry devices and is working with vendors to prepare a list of devices that are compatible with the specifications. It will soon publish an initial list of compatible telemetry devices.

Telemetry equipment can help with on-farm water management and reduce your record-

More information is available on our telemetry page.

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.

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.

The department will soon publish an initial list of compatible telemetry devices. More information is available on our telemetry page.

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

More information is available on our telemetry page.

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.

More information is available on our telemetry page.

Who pays for the ongoing costs of telemetry?

Water users are responsible for the costs of buying, installing and maintaining all metering equipment, including telemetry. Telemetry equipment includes the compatible telemetry device as well as a sim card and monthly telemetry subscription.

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 data acquisition service:

The department will soon publish an initial list of compatible telemetry devices.

The department has, and will continue to, engage with vendors during the design and rollout of the data acquisition services to give them the opportunity to participate in the market.

More information is available on our telemetry page.

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 will 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?

Under the metering rules, the NSW Government has appointed Irrigation Australia Limited (IAL) as the approved provider of all tamper-evident seals.

Only current duly qualified persons can purchase seals from the website and each certified person will need to login to the IAL website using their membership credentials before a purchase can be made.

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

The government tamper-evident seals are recorded by the duly qualified person on the metering equipment’s validation form. This record will be incorporated into a register maintained by  the government 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) within seven days if they know or reasonably suspect any tampering on 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.

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 in the installation guide for each compatible device.

Duly qualified persons

Who is a duly qualified person?

A duly qualified person is a person with the qualifications, skills or experience to carry out certain work in relation to metering equipment.

Water users must use a duly qualified person to carry out certain work in relation to their metering equipment, including installation, certain maintenance requirements, validation and checking the accuracy of an existing meter.

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.

How can water users find 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?

Yes – view Certificates on our Forms, certificates and fact sheets page.

Duly qualified persons must give the completed certificate to the person for whom the work is done within seven days of completing the work..

A portal is being developed that will allow duly qualified persons to provide and submit certificates to both the water user and government at the same time. However in the meantime; 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 the certificate. Water users must also keep the certificate for 5 years.

If I want to keep my existing meter, what do I need to do?

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

The report must attach one of the following sets of supporting documentations:

  • If the metering equipment is pattern-approved, - a copy of a validation certificate provided by a duly qualified person, or
  • If the metering equipment is not pattern-approved but the meter can be validated and you have a manufacturer’s certificate of accuracy - , copies of the:
  • the manufacturer’s certificate showing the equipment was within +/-2.5% accuracy after manufacture,
  • validation certificate provided by a duly qualified person, or
  • If the metering equipment is not patter-approved and you can demonstrate the accuracy of the meter in situ – a copy of the accuracy certificate provided by a duly qualified person to confirm the meter has been checked and the maximum permissible error of the meter does not exceed +/- 5 % in the field.

See our forms, certificates and fact sheets page for more information.

We are also developing a guidance note to help water users and duly qualified persons understand what needs to be done to keep a non-pattern approved meter.

Can a duly qualified person validate their own work?

Yes. If a duly qualified person validates their own equipment, they 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?

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?

The responsibility remains with the authority/approval holder to ensure that their metering equipment is 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 water user?

Duly qualified persons must provide water users with certificates of validation, design or accuracy check within 7 days of completing the work. .

The water user then has 28 days from the date he/she receives the certificate to submit it to the department.

A portal is being developed that will allow duly qualified persons to submit certificates to water users and to government at the same time. More information will be provided in due course.

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

We also anticipate that duly qualified persons will be able to access historical certificates through the portal that is currently being developed. More information will be provided in due course.

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 stops working.

If a water user becomes aware that their telemetry equipment 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?

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

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 meter installers and validators of the metering rules.

To increase awareness of the role of duly qualified persons we also publish online materials, participate in agricultural trade fairs and field days and hold workshops and information sessions.

Information about the department’s activities are regularly updated on our website.