Water eNews July 2019

Water news

JULY 2019  | ISSUE #6

Water metering roadshow

Water metering

New non-urban water metering rules are being rolled out over the next five years. We’re holding 12 regional information sessions during July and August to explain the rules and ensure the community can comment on proposed minor changes to the regulations.

You can visit our website to see answers to frequently asked questions about the NSW water metering framework, or to find an event near you.

New drought restrictions to preserve water for critical needs

Water restrictions

Continued low inflows to our rivers mean that several new water access restrictions and rule suspensions came into effect on 1 July. There are now restrictions to general security water access licences in the Upper and Lower Namoi, the Border Rivers, the Lachlan and the Macquarie river catchments. The end of system flows provision for the Belubula has also been suspended.

These areas are all experiencing severe or critical water shortages. The restrictions and suspensions have been made to preserve water for critical human needs, in line with the NSW Extreme Events policy.

Visit our website for details on the current restrictions.

Building momentum with the Safe and Secure Water Program

Safe and secure water program roadshow

The current drought has highlighted the importance of investment in water infrastructure and planning.

In May and June, our Safe and Secure Water Program team travelled through regional NSW to meet with councils, water utilities and consultants. The roadshow was to explain changes to the program and help support the attendees to apply for funding.

The Safe and Secure Water Program was established in 2017 to co-fund eligible water and sewerage projects in regional NSW. The recently revised program targets water utilities at greatest risk, by using a decision framework that considers water quality, security, environmental impact, socioeconomic conditions and affected population.

The roadshow was well received, with attendees particularly interested in co-funding for integrated water cycle management strategies. The program has already approved 81 projects and is building momentum to fund more regional water services in the coming months.

Upcoming consultation

We’re working towards delivering several major projects in water management, and our staff have been all around the state making sure you get the chance to have your say. This month, we’ve been everywhere from Maitland to Menindee to Lightning Ridge.

We’ve got more consultation lined up for August on topics from water metering to floodplain harvesting. We’re also continuing to release Water Resource Plans for public exhibition. Please visit our stakeholder engagement page for the latest events and information.

Visit our stakeholder engagement page.

Understanding groundwater in the Macleay Coastal Sands

Macleay River groundwater field work

In June, our Water Science staff completed fieldwork to help characterise groundwater within the Macleay Coastal Sands Water Source. The project was to assess water quality and risks to the aquifer.

The Macleay Coastal Sands, on the coast from Kempsey, is the sole source of town water supply for South West Rocks, Hat Head, and Crescent Head. After bore fields were installed in the 1980s, the area was declared a National Park, and the area became recognised for highly groundwater-dependent ecosystems.

Since the bores were installed, the growing local and tourist population has increased water extraction. This has created new risks for both the town water supply and the groundwater-dependent ecosystems, with the potential for saltwater from the ocean to intrude into the groundwater. The findings of the study will help manage risks to the availability and quality of groundwater in the region.

The works were completed as part of a broader project to characterise all known groundwater sources across the state.

NRAR gaining speed

Peel River inspections

The Natural Resources Access Regulator is gaining pace in its second year with two more compliance projects underway.

The new Hawkesbury/Hills compliance program has completed 15 inspections in the first month of its five-month run. There’s been a definite theme in the compliance officers’ findings, which we’ll share with the public at the end of the project.

The ‘Operation Eagle’ project on the Peel River is focusing on water take from Chaffey Dam by properties downstream. Inspections, which finished on 12 July, focused on the properties identified as highest risk out of 295 in the target area.

What they found has been heartening. An investigator said that, although it’s the first time NRAR had visited properties in the Peel River Valley, all six were complying with water laws.

“We also answered questions from landholders about the new metering regulations, and they were interested to know about our metering roadshow,” he said.

In court news, a landowner in the Wentworth LGA this month pleaded guilty in the Land and Environment Court to eight charges of unlawful water take from the Murray River. Sentencing will take place later in the year.

Minister Pavey speaks at the AWA

In late July, Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey and Water CEO Jim Bentley spoke at the NSW Industry Breakfast for the Australian Water Association. They spoke about the rationale for the new Department of Planning, Industry and Environment cluster, and the role they expect it to take going forward.

They also spoke about ways the NSW Government will seek to build and develop resilience in our rural communities. In the water space, we will be building our adaptive capacity, and helping to make systems more robust. In practical terms, this will mean looking for improvements in efficiency and infrastructure, including dams, weirs, pipelines and demand management programs.

Launch of environmental water hub

Environmental water hub

This month, we added a new section on water for the environment to our website. The section supports the NSW Government’s commitment to improving the transparency of environmental water management and how it is shared, allocated and managed.

Called the environmental water hub, it aims to make information about environmental water-related more available. It consolidates all existing environmental water-related information, including the public water registers, and links to other agencies who have responsibilities for managing water for the environment. The hub is a ‘one-stop-shop’ where people can go to find information on water for the environment.

If you want to know more about how we manage environmental water, check it out industry.nsw.gov.au/water/environmental

Have your say: on public exhibition

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Water News is our monthly update on water planning, management and reform in NSW. If you have any questions or feedback contact us at:

NSW Government – Water Relations
Phone +61 2 9338 6600