Tracking surface water extractions against extraction limits

The amount of surface water that can be extracted from a surface water source is limited. While the amount extracted by all water users varies each year, on average it cannot exceed the extraction limits. All NSW water sharing plans include long-term average annual extraction limits (LTAAEL). In the Murray Darling Basin, Water Sharing Plans will also include the relevant Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) as set by the Basin Plan.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment is responsible for checking LTAAEL compliance. For SDL compliance, NSW prepares and submits a self- assessment of compliance. SDL compliance assessment has been reviewed and published by MDBA, however; the compliance assessment responsibility has now been transferred to the Inspector-General Water Compliance which was formally established on 5 August 2021.

Find out more about how these limits are defined and what the differences are between LTAAEL and SDL compliance.

Information on surface water LTAAEL compliance results can be found here.

Information on current and historic non-compliance results for either LTAAEL or SDL can be found here.

Important information

The Barwon-Darling exceeded the Sustainable Diversion Limit compliance triggers in 2019/20 and has again exceeded it in 2020/21. The reasonable excuse claim was rejected by the MDBA in 2019/20 as the department hadn’t implemented all of the procedures in the proposed water resource plan, including the NSW extraction limit assessment. This work was completed in 2021 using data up to 2019/20 and concluded that current long-term average annual extractions are compliant with the Long-term Average Annual Extraction Limit. Read our assessment (PDF, 165.17 KB) to find out more. We have since completed an updated assessment using data up to 2020/21 ( PDF, 86.72 KB) and this again shows compliance.

We have submitted a reasonable excuse claim for 2020/21 (PDF, 307.38 KB) to the Inspector General of Water Compliance, as they now have the compliance and enforcement functions that were previously held by the MDBA. A series of make-good actions were agreed to with MDBA in 2021 and we continue to progress these. This includes a project to update the permitted take method as it was developed based on older less accurate metering. We estimate that this is the main reason for exceeding the compliance triggers in 2020/21.

Read our FAQs to find out more.