Temporary water restrictions for NSW Border Rivers

Reasons for decision

Temporary Water Restriction (NSW Border Rivers) Order 2019

and

Access Licence Dealing Principles (NSW Border Rivers) Order 2019

Background

The NSW Border Rivers Regulated River Water Source is currently in Drought Stage 3 under the NSW Extreme Events Policy, exhibiting severe water shortage. Due to the ongoing drought and record low inflows, Pindari and Glenlyon Dams are currently less than 10 percent and 6 percent respectively. 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 access to 50% of carryover in accounts on 30 June 2019 by general security access licences (Class A and Class B). This restriction will reserve remaining water for critical human and high priority needs.

This approach 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This order may be amended or repealed before 30 June 2020.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 NSW Border Rivers Regulated River Water Source as follows:

  • “to cope with a water shortage”– due to very low inflow and high delivery loss 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 water needs will be under greater threat in the 2019/20 water year without intervention.

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

  • 50% (50% allowed) of carryover in accounts on 30 June 2019 by general security access licences (Class A and Class B) in the NSW Border Rivers 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

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