Temporary water restriction for Upper Namoi and Lower Namoi Regulated river water sources
Temporary Water Restriction (Upper Namoi and Lower Namoi Regulated River Water Sources) Order 2018
Access Licence Dealing Principles (Upper Namoi and Lower Namoi Regulated Rivers Water Sources) Order 2018
Water is allocated taking into account minimal future inflows and making provision for expected delivery loss. The Namoi catchment is experiencing record low inflows due to drought. Split Rock and Keepit Dams have only received 31 GL of inflow since August 2017. In comparison the lowest historical inflow was 44 GL (1939 August to 1940 October).
Excessive losses are also being experienced and the water that was set aside for delivery is exhausted. During drought, block releases are a way of operating, to deliver orders while limiting transmission losses. Block releases were used in October and based on the losses experienced, the remaining orders can no longer be delivered in full. To provide context, about 14 GL of water was lost compared to a typical 3 GL.
In light of these circumstances, Water NSW has predicted a shortfall in meeting essential and high security needs if it continues delivering all general security water currently allocated to accounts. Water restriction orders that freeze account access are warranted to secure 24 months of essential supplies for both Split Rock and Keepit dams. Essential needs include domestic and stock use, local water utilities supplies and delivery water.
Reasons for decisions
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 making an order to restrict take in the Namoi as follows:
- “to cope with a water shortage” - due to a record low inflow and high delivery loss there is insufficient resource to supply the full account compliment of general security water, while maintaining high security supplies for 2019/20.
- “threat to public health and safety” - domestic supplies would be under threat in 2019/20 water year without intervention. These supplies are under threat in some locations, with alternate delivery measures being investigated.
Prohibition of trade – section 71Z
Section 71Z of the Act allows the Minister or his 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:
- Lower Namoi (general security) water users may sell their restricted water allocations to unrestricted access licence holders and thus activate use of those water allocations
- Upper Namoi (general security) water users may sell their restricted water allocations to other unrestricted access licence holders and thus activate use of those water allocations
- Lower Namoi water users may buy water allocations from Peel regulated river users for take within the Lower Namoi.
The ALDP order is proposed to prohibit the assignment of water allocations which could not be taken by the assignor (seller) under the new section 324 order. Together with the section 324 order, the ALDP order will ensure that
- 15% of water in Upper Namoi General Security accounts is ‘frozen’ and cannot be taken or traded
- 15% of ordered but undelivered water under Upper Namoi General Security licences is ‘frozen’ and cannot be taken
- 100% of un-ordered water in Lower Namoi General Security accounts is ‘frozen’ and cannot be taken or traded
- Water allocations cannot be assigned to the Lower Namoi from the Peel Regulated River Water Source.
The ALDP order is worded in a way to ensure that internal trading of the available water is not unnecessarily restricted.
Rachel Connell, Executive Director, Department of Industry–Water
13 November 2018