Temporary Water Restriction - Hastings Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources

Reason for Decision

Temporary Water Restriction (Hastings Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources) Order 2019

Background

Rainfall totals across the Hasting water source has been “very much below average” for the past 24 months.

Protection of low flows is essential to provide water for basic landholder and higher priority licences e.g. stock and domestic, local water utility, and to ensure instream connectivity and ecological requirements are satisfied.

Port Macquarie which has a population of 69,000 moved to Level 3 restrictions on the 25 November 2019. Water utilities estimate the city has less than 12 months’ supply. Under continuing drought conditions, the council will need to increase to level 4 restriction in the first quarter of 2020

The Hastings water source was the last source to transfer from the Water Act 1912 to the Water Management Act 2000. The new water-sharing plan commenced on the 1 July 2019 and includes updated cease to pump conditions. The new cease to pump conditions replace original licence conditions that were poorly described and/or did not adequately protect low flows for basic landholder rights and the environment.

Daily flows are available for the Hasting catchment river gauges on the WaterNSW real time data portal here or via the WaterNSW Water Live App for Android and Apple.

Licence holders are required to record pumping details in a logbook unless they have an operational meter that complies with Australian standard AS4747. The logbook template for Hastings is Version A which can be downloaded from here.

Before the new access conditions and cease to pump thresholds become enforceable, they must be uploaded to the Water Licencing System (WLS) and licence holders notified.

This temporary restriction will address the issue of no enforceable conditions by applying the cease to pump conditions in the Water Sharing Plan for the Hastings Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2019 to existing licence holders, while licence administration activities are completed.

Reasons for Decisions

Temporary water restriction – section 324

Section 324 of the Water Management Act 2000 (the Act) allows the Minister or 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 Hastings Water Source as follows:

  • “to cope with a water shortage”– Protection of low flows is essential to provide water for basic landholder and higher priority licences e.g. stock and domestic, local water utilities in the Hastings River water Source.
  • “threat to public health and safety” – Reduction in flows as a result of unlawful extraction upstream, increases the likelihood of lower quality water in the downstream reaches of the river, where water is extracted for Port Macquarie water supply.

Accordingly, this s.324 order is being made to restrict:

  • holders of access licences in the Hastings water source to the access conditions and cease to pump thresholds specified in The Water Sharing Plan for the Hastings Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2019

The restriction will be in place from the date of gazette to 30 June 2020; however, may be amended or repealed prior to this date should conditions change.

Allan Raine

A/Director Water Planning Implementation

19 December 2019