Regional water strategies and water sharing plans

Regional water strategies are non-statutory long-term strategies that will potentially inform future policy, regulation and planning instruments, including water sharing plans.

But how will this work?

Water sharing plans as legal instrument

The NSW Water Management Act 2000 establishes the framework for sharing water and provides priorities for how water is shared and allocated. NSW water sharing plans set the rules for sharing water between licence categories over a 10-year period and implement limits on water extraction. Water sharing plans continue to be the legal instruments for managing water resources in NSW.

During the 10 year period when a water sharing plan is in place, the scope for making changes to a plan is limited by the Act and each water sharing plan. However a review of an individual water sharing plan takes place after each 10-year period when the plan is due to be remade.

All inland water sharing plans within the Murray–Darling Basin either have been or will be reviewed to ensure consistency with the requirements of the Commonwealth’s Basin Plan. They form a component of the required water resource plans.

Some of the coastal water sharing plans are also up for review in the coming year. Visit water sharing plans to read more about replacement timeframes.

How do these water sharing plans interact with the new regional water strategies that are being developed?

Using new climate data, each regional water strategy will develop a portfolio of options that meets one or more of the objectives of the regional water strategies. Once each strategy is finalised, each option will have to be further developed. Depending on the scale and type, some options will require approval through extensive planning approval pathways.

It is possible that the new modelling data gathered through regional water strategies and the options developed will inform changes to water sharing plans.

When strategy options may trigger amendments to a water sharing plan in that specific region, the timing of these potential amendments would depend on the further development of the regional water strategies, the rules for amending the water sharing plan, the timing for reviewing and remaking a water sharing plan, and the requirements under the planning approvals that may be required.

For water sharing plans within the Murray–Darling Basin, additional considerations are required. If changes are required to water sharing arrangements that have been accredited as part of the water resource plan, these changes will need to be re-assessed by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority to ensure they meet Basin Plan requirements.

The graphic below shows the broader policy and planning context that guide the management of water resources.

You can also read more about the relationship between regional water strategies and water sharing plans in the fact sheet (PDF 887.2 KB).

The relationship between regional water strategies, water sharing plans and water resource plans.

Also available to download in high resolution (JPG 647.2 KB).