Amended temporary water restrictions for Upper Namoi and Lower Namoi Regulated River Water Source

Reasons for decision

Temporary Water Restriction (Upper Namoi and Lower Namoi Regulated River Water Sources) Amendment Order 2018

Background

Water is allocated taking into account minimal future inflows and making provision for expected delivery loss. The Namoi catchment is experiencing record low inflows and excessive delivery loss. Water NSW had predicted a shortfall in meeting essential and high security needs earlier this month. On 14 November 2018, a 15% restriction on Upper Namoi general security licences, and a complete restriction on Lower Namoi general security licences (except for 85% of water which had been ordered on or before 5 November 2018), was imposed to manage a 5 GL delivery shortfall.

The catchment has since received over 40 mm of rain, replenishing weir pools and soaking the dry river bed. Updated advice from WNSW indicated its ability to deliver all Upper Namoi needs until June 2019 and meet all current Lower Namoi orders with a ‘final’ block release delivery through December. In addition, the Bureau of Meteorology has updated its December forecast with a slightly improved (wetter) outlook, meaning the current shortfall is now more manageable.

Reasons for decision

Temporary water restriction – section 324

Section 324 of the Water Management Act 2000 (the Act) allows the Minister or his delegate to direct, by order, that temporary water restrictions within a water source(s) 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 easing, but not altogether removing, the restriction enacted on 1 November 2018 by the Temporary Water Restriction (Upper Namoi and Lower Namoi Regulated River Water Sources) Order 2018 as follows:

  • “to cope with a water shortage” - due to a small rainfall induced inflow and lower than planned delivery loss there is small improvement in resource sufficient to ease the restriction on general security water in the Upper Namoi.
  • “threat to public health and safety” – the restriction prohibiting further general security water orders in the Lower Namoi will continue to secure domestic supplies for 2019/20 water year. These supplies are under threat in some locations, with alternate delivery measures necessary and being investigated. However, all water ordered on or before 5 November 2018 by general security licence holders in the Lower Namoi can now be taken.

Consequential changes to trade restrictions (imposed by the Access Licence Dealing Principles (Upper Namoi and Lower Namoi Regulated Rivers Water Sources) Order 2018) will automatically have effect when the section 324 order is amended (so that restrictions on trade mirror the updated restrictions on take).

Rachel Connell, Executive Director, Department of Industry - Water

27 November 2018