Temporary Water Restriction - Upper and Lower Namoi Regulated River Water Sources

Reason for Decision

Temporary Water Restrictions (Upper and Lower Namoi Regulated River Water Sources) Amendment Order No. 2 2019

Background

The Upper Namoi Water Source is now in Drought Stage 4 under the NSW Extreme Events Policy, exhibiting critical water shortage. Split Rock Dam is at less than 2% total capacity.

Storage inflows since the last general security allocation in August 2017 have been just 39,000 megalitres (ML). This is well below the previous minimum of 143,000 ML (August 2013 to October 2015).

At the commencement of the 2019-20 water year, a temporary restriction of 25% was placed on carryover in accounts by Upper Namoi general security access licences. This order will extend the restriction to prohibiting any take of carryover water in general security accounts. Trade may continue after the restriction is in place; however, any restricted water that is traded will remain restricted and cannot be extracted from the water source until the temporary water restriction has been lifted or further amended.

To secure essential requirements, Upper Namoi general security water in accounts cannot be delivered until there is significant resource recovery.

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 Upper Namoi Regulated River Water Source as follows:

  • “to cope with a water shortage” – due to very 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 townships of Manilla and Barraba 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 temporary water restriction is being made to prohibit access from 6 December 2019:

  • to the take of all carryover water in accounts of general security access licences from the Upper Namoi Regulated River Water Source, and
  • to the take of any of that restricted general security water by a licence holder who has purchased the water.

The prohibition does not apply to the take of water for testing metering equipment of up to a total of 1 ML for pumps larger than 500 mm and 0.5 ML 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 6 December 2019 to 30 June 2020. However, the restriction may be amended or repealed prior to this date should conditions change.

Beth Overton

A/Executive Director Policy, Planning & Sciences

4 December 2019