Suspension to Water Sharing Plan for the Greater Metropolitan Region Unregulated River Water Sources 2011
|Water sharing plan suspension notice||Suspension to Water Sharing Plan for the Greater Metropolitan Region Unregulated River Water Sources 2011|
|Background||The Greater Sydney region is currently experiencing drought. There is a threat to the short to medium term availability of water for the region due to the ongoing drought. The region is currently at level 1 water restrictions and will move to level 2 water restrictions in December 2019.|
|Water licenses affected||No licences affected - suspension applies to end of system flow rules|
|Date suspension started||27 August 2019|
|Date suspension ends||30 June 2020|
Reason for decision
The Greater Sydney region is currently experiencing drought. There is a threat to the short to medium term availability of water for the region due to the ongoing drought. The region is currently at level 1 water restrictions and will move to level 2 water restrictions in December 2019.
Sydney’s desalination plant has reached full production and is currently providing approximately 15 per cent of Sydney’s total daily water needs. Even with this additional supply, it is indicated that Sydney’s total water supply would drop below 30 per cent by late 2021. At this level, water quality and the ability to pump water out of dams may be compromised.
Due to the ongoing drought and record low inflows, Sydney’s storages are currently at less than 47 percent total capacity, with the drought not expected to break in the next 12 months. The Shoalhaven region currently has level 1 water restrictions and it is estimated that there is five years supply in the remaining storage.
The Metropolitan Water Plan 2017 provides for transfers from Tallowa Dam on the Shoalhaven River for Sydney’s water supply. During the Millennium Drought, Sydney’s water supplies fell to 33.8 per cent in February 2007. Transfers from Shoalhaven supplied around 30 per cent of Sydney’s water during that drought. Without the Shoalhaven transfers, Sydney’s supply would have fallen to 13 per cent.
Clause 30 of the Water Sharing Plan for the Greater Metropolitan Region Unregulated River Water Sources allows limited transfers from the Shoalhaven River system. Clause 30 must be suspended to allow additional transfer from the Shoalhaven River Water Source for Sydney’s water supply. To manage water supply for Greater Sydney, the Minister has suspended clause 30 allowing the additional transfer.
Reasons for decisions
Water Sharing Plan suspension – section 49B
Section 49B of the Water Management Act 2000 enables all or part of water sharing plans to be suspended if the Minister is satisfied that there is a severe water shortage.
Before suspending the operation of all or part of a plan, the Minister must obtain the concurrence of the Minister for Energy and Environment.
Benefits and risks
The suspension of clause 30 allows more water to be transferred from the Shoalhaven River Water Source to the Upper Nepean and Upstream Warragamba Water Source to increase Sydney’s water supply.
Shoalhaven’s water supply is estimated to have 5 years remaining in storage. Environmental flows released into the Shoalhaven River from Tallowa Dam have been unaffected and will continue to ensure water is available for the health of the river.
The suspension came into force on 27 August 2019 and will continue up to 30 June 2020.