Temporary water restriction for Belubula Regulated River Water Source

Reason for Decision

Temporary Water Restriction (Belubula Regulated River Water Source) Order 2019 (section 324 order)

Background

The Belubula Regulated River Water Source is currently in Drought Stage 3 under the NSW Extreme Events Policy, exhibiting severe water shortage. Due to ongoing drought and record low inflows, Lake Carcoar is currently holding less than 8,000 megalitres (ML), and orders are being met from tributary flows where possible. 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 September 2019 cannot be delivered in full until there is significant resource recovery. A temporary water restriction has been made to restrict access from 1 October 2019 to no more than 40% of water held in water allocation accounts on 30 September 2019 held by general security access licences. This restriction will reserve remaining water for critical human and high priority needs.

This approach is consistent with the NSW Extreme Events Policy.

Reasons for Decision

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 Belubula 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 and high priority 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:

  • no more than 40% of water in accounts on 30 September 2019 of general security access licences in the Belubula Regulated River Water Source.

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.

The restriction will be in place from 1 October 2019 to 30 June 2020; however, may be amended or repealed prior to this date should conditions change.

Vannessa O'Keefe
A/Executive Director Policy, Planning & Sciences

1 October 2019