Lachlan Regulated River Water Source Amendment
|Temporary restriction notice||Temporary Water Restriction (Lachlan Regulated River Water Source) Amendment Order 2020|
|Licences affected||General security water access licence holders|
|Date restriction started||1 July 2020|
|Date restriction ends||30 June 2021|
|Status||Repealed – 10 August 2020|
Reason for Decision
A temporary water restriction was placed on the Lachlan Regulated River Water Source on 1 July 2019. At the time that this restriction was made the Lachlan Regulated River Water Source was in Drought Stage 2, with an emerging water shortage. The restriction prohibits general security access licence holders from taking no more than 57% of the volume of water held in water allocation accounts as of 30 June 2019, leaving 43% frozen in accounts. This restriction is scheduled to expire 30 June 2020.
The Lachlan is now in Drought Stage 3, with a severe water shortage. Wyangala Dam is at 14.81% (181GL). As of 1 May 2020, 313 GL of further inflow is needed to overcome the resource deficit and enable further improvement to be considered for new general security allocations. Tight restrictions must remain in place and maximum use made of tributary inflows to reduce the need for storage releases and thereby provide security for critical needs in 2020-21 and beyond.
The general security carryover water remaining in accounts in the Lachlan Regulated River as of 30 June 2019 cannot be delivered in full until there is significant resource recovery without jeopardising critical supplies. There is also a need to further restrict half of the current balance of 57% allowable account water held behind Wyangala.
To cope with the continued water shortage and to protect public health and safety, the Temporary Water Restriction (Lachlan Regulated River Water Source) Order 2019 has been extended to 30 June 2021. In addition, from 1 July 2020, 50% of the volume of water held in the water allocation accounts of general security access licences that was permissible for take prior to 1 July 2020 has also been restricted from take.
The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment - Water has been communicating the water shortage situation to the users through routine water allocation statements and drought roadshows. WaterNSW is also communicating the same message. Specifically, the likely continuation and increase of the restriction was discussed with water users by WaterNSW and explicitly mentioned in the water allocation statement by the department published on 15 May 2020.
The extension of the restriction to 30 June 2021 is recommended because, although Wyangala Dam usually receives higher inflow during winter and early spring, the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting below median inflow to Wyangala during this period. No major irrigation demand is expected prior to October. The department will undertake further assessment by the end of September and make further decisions regarding access based on inflows.
This approach is consistent with the NSW Extreme Events Policy.
The amendment order is drafted to be in effect until 30 June 2021. This duration can be adjusted by amending or repealing the order as required.
This amendment continues to allow the trade of frozen general security carryover water but prohibits buyers of the frozen general security carryover water from taking or using it.
The temporary restriction does not apply to the take of water for testing metering equipment of up to a total of 1ML for pumps larger than 500mm and 0.5ML for all other works. The duly qualified persons testing metering equipment will be required to notify NRAR within 24 hours of any take for testing.
Reasons for decisions
Temporary water restriction – section 324
Section 324 of the Water Management Act 2000 (the Act) allows the Minister delegate to order that temporary water restrictions within a water source(s) are to have effect for a specified period, if these restrictions are determined to be in the public interest.
Examples of the public interest referred to in section 324(1) include “to cope with a water shortage, threat to public health or safety or to manage water for environmental purposes”.
Based on the information outlined in the Background section, there is a public interest in making an amendment order to restrict take in the Lachlan Regulated River Water Source as follows:
- “to cope with a water shortage” - The Lachlan Regulated River Water Source is now in in Drought Stage 3 under the NSW Extreme Events Policy, exhibiting severe water shortage. Due to ongoing drought, very low inflows and high delivery loss there is insufficient resource to supply the full complement of general security water carryover and meet higher priority requirements.
- “threat to public health and safety” – supplies to critical human and high priority needs will continue to be under threat without an extension to the temporary water restriction.
To cope with the continued water shortage and to protect public health and safety the Temporary Water Restriction (Lachlan Regulated River Water Source) Order 2019 has been amended to:
- continue to prohibit general security access licence holders in the Lachlan from taking more than 57% of the volume of water held in the water allocation accounts (43% frozen in accounts)
- restrict any of the remaining 57% volume held in water allocation accounts as at 1 July 2020 by 50%
- be in effect until 30 June 2021
The expiry date of the restriction has been extended because Wyangala dam usually receives higher inflow during winter and early spring, however; the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting below median inflow to Wyangala during this period. No major irrigation demand is expected prior to October. The department will undertake further assessment by the end of September and make further decisions regarding access based on further inflows.
Flows and conditions will be monitored. Water users will be kept up to date with the prospects of water access through water user forums, drought engagement meetings and water allocation statements.
Acting Director - Planning Implementation
26 June 2020