Why review water sharing plans?
NSW water sharing plans are valid for 10 years from their commencing date. Amendments to water sharing plans are made throughout their life to ensure they comply with changing legislation and to facilitate their implementation. However, near the end of the ten year term, a formal review is completed by both the department and the Natural Resource Commission to identify the necessary alterations to deliver better outcomes for all water users, including the environment.
What is the review process?
Under the Water Management Act 2000 the Minister may, on recommendation by the Natural Resources Commission, extend a water sharing plan for another 10 years or replace the plan.
Extension refers to the extension of a plan for a further 10 years without change. Replacement is where changes to the existing plan are proposed.
In some cases where a smaller plan is being replaced, it may be merged into a larger plan.
What does this mean to me?
Where a plan is to be extended, there is no change thus minimal or no engagement is necessary.
Where a plan is to be replaced, but there is no change to the intent of the plan rules, the department will engage with stakeholders to explain how proposed changes are consistent with the intent of the plan. This means that there will not be another submission period or a formal public exhibition for the plan before it is replaced. However, depending on the needs of stakeholders, other forms of consultation such as information sessions or one-on-one meetings may be offered.
Where a plan is to be replaced, and there are more extensive changes that alter the intent of plan rules the department will consult with interested stakeholders before replacement plans are finalised. In these instances a formal public exhibition period, with calls for submissions, may be held. Depending on the needs of stakeholders, other forms of consultation such as targeted consultation with peak organisations, information sessions, or one-on-one meetings may be held.
How can I be involved?
The department will notify licence holders and other stakeholders when the review of a water sharing plan is due to commence. The department collaborates with the Natural Resource Commission, consulting with stakeholders and gathering information to inform reviews.
Water sharing plans undergoing a review are advertised on the Have Your Say website and submissions are collated by the Natural Resource Commission and shared with the department. This is generally followed by targeted stakeholder meetings to discuss issues and understand stakeholder concerns.