Repeal of Temporary Water Restriction - Bega and Brogo Regulated Rivers Water Sources

Reason for Decision

Temporary Water Restriction (Bega and Brogo Regulated Rivers Water Source) Repeal Order 2020

Background to making of the section 324 order

At the time the section 324 order was made, the Bega and Brogo Regulated Rivers Water Source was in Drought Stage 2 (emerging water shortage), and was later escalated to the highest Stage 4 (critical drought).

Brogo Dam is the main source of water for the towns along the Bega and Brogo rivers, which rely on the Brogo-Bermagui Water Supply System, and limited groundwater access. Brogo Dam, which feeds into the Brogo - Bermagui Water Supply System, was 13.6% full, holding around 1,400 ML as of 6/01/2020. The storage was predicted to reach the very critical level of 1,200ML not long after. This level would enable town water supplies to be met over the Summer / Autumn period, assuming some inflows to the dam were received after this. To secure critical water supplies, access to all water remaining in general security accounts was prohibited until there was sufficient resource recovery. The remaining volume was secured to cover delivery losses, evaporation and contingencies for essential demands including the town water supply, which has an historic average annual use of around 350 ML.

Reasons for decision - repeal of the section 324 order

Due to heavy rainfall on the weekend of 8 and 9 February 2020, as at 10 February 2020, Brogo Dam is 112% full and spilling.  In these circumstances, full water security has been restored, and the public interest reasons for applying the temporary water restriction, as set out below, no longer apply.  The temporary water restriction order has now been repealed in the public interest.

Reasons for Decision - making of the section 324 order

Temporary water restriction – section 324

Section 324 of the Water Management Act 2000 (the Act) allows the Minister or her 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 general security take in the Bega and Brogo Regulated Rivers Water Source as follows:

  • “to cope with a water shortage” - Brogo dam is depleting fast due to no net inflow and high delivery loss. The remaining water volume must be protected for critical human needs as it is the main source of water for the Brogo-Bermagui Water Supply System.
  • “threat to public health and safety” – town water supply and domestic supplies are crucial for public health and safety and are under threat without intervention. These mitigation measures are needed to maintain supplies and provide for essential needs, in the Brogo River, and will be in place until replenishment has occurred.

The 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.

Trade restrictions do not apply as part of the Order. This has been done to allow some users to trade water, and provide some monetary relief during the severe drought conditions. However, the Order states that any restricted water that is traded cannot be accessed until the temporary water restriction is lifted. Traded water retains its restricted access characteristics.

Vanessa O'Keefe
A/ Executive Director, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment  – Water Policy, Planning and Sciences

12 February 2020