Temporary water restrictions for Macquarie Regulated River system

Reasons for decision

Temporary Water Restriction (Macquarie Regulated River) Order 2019


Access Licence Dealing Principles (Macquarie Regulated River) Order 2019


The Macquarie Regulated River Water Source is currently at Drought Stage 4 under the NSW Extreme Events Policy, exhibiting critical water shortage. Due to the ongoing drought and record low inflows, Burrendong Dam is currently at less than 6 percent total capacity. Evaporation and transmission losses have been, and are expected to continue to be, very high.

The general security water remaining in accounts as of 30 June 2019 cannot be delivered in full until there is significant resource recovery. A temporary water restriction has been made to restrict general security access from 1 July 2019 to carryover as of 30 June 2019. This restriction will reserve remaining water for critical human and high priority needs.

This measure is consistent with the NSW Extreme Events Policy.

This order may be amended or repealed before 30 June 2020.

Carryover water that is temporarily restricted goes into a drought reserve account. If inflows are sufficient to meet critical water needs, water in the drought reserve will be returned progressively to users’ active accounts. The carryover account water is not lost.

Reasons for decisions

Temporary water restriction – section 324

Section 324 of the Water Management Act 2000 (the Act) allows the Minister or their 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 order to restrict take in the Macquarie Regulated River Water Source as follows:

  • “to cope with a water shortage”– due to record low inflow and high delivery losses there is insufficient resource to supply the full account complement of general security water, if essential supplies are to be maintained  for 2019/20.
  • “threat to public health and safety”  – supplies to critical human and high priority needs will be under greater threat in the 2019/20 water year without intervention.

Accordingly, this s.324 order has been made to restrict access to carryover (nothing allowed) as of 30 June 2019 by general security access licences in the Macquarie Regulated River Water Source.

The restriction will be in place from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020.

Prohibition of trade – section 71Z

Section 71Z of the Act allows the Minister or their delegate to, by order, establish Access Licence Dealing Principles (ALDPs) to regulate or prohibit the kinds of dealings that may be effected under Division 4 of Part 2, Chapter 3 of the Act.
Trade restrictions are required to complement the temporary water restriction. In the absence of trade restrictions, the following could occur contrary to the intent of the section 324 order:

  • a person can sell the restricted water in their account
  • the buyer of that water is able to take that water
  • water could be traded downstream and cannot be transferred for supply there, based on current rules and protocols that maintain a minimum volume of water in Windamere Dam.

The ALDP order is proposed to prohibit the temporary assignment of any volume of water which could not be taken by the assignor (seller) under the s324 temporary restriction order.

Together with the section 324 order, the ALDP order will ensure that all water in relevant accounts is ‘frozen’ and inaccessible for either take or trade.

The ALDP order is designed to ensure that trading of the available water is not unnecessarily restricted.

Rachel Connell, Executive Director, Department of Industry–Water

26 June 2019

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