Water eNews November 2019

Water news

NOVEMBER 2019  | ISSUE #10

Drought update

View of drought paddock in November 2019

The drought in New South Wales remains critical. Several major river systems are now at Stage 4 Critical Drought, where any remaining water has to be prioritised for town water supplies. In others, water losses are now too high to allow water to be released to the end of the systems.

On 7 November, the Upper Namoi Valley moved to Stage 4 Critical Drought. All the major inland NSW river systems, except the Murrumbidgee Valley, are now classified as in emerging, severe or critical drought stages.

The department has also been providing technical support to local water utilities and emergency services to keep the water flowing during the current fires.

For the latest drought information visit the department’s Drought Update webpage or register for the drought outlook and water availability webinar on 3 December.

NSW Parliament approves Water Supply (Critical Needs) Bill 2019

On 14 November, NSW Parliament approved the Water Supply (Critical Needs) Bill 2019. This temporary bill will allow the government to fast-track water infrastructure projects where critical town water supply is needed for the next two years.

The new bill will facilitate the delivery of emergency water supplies to certain towns and localities. It will mean that the previously announced upgrade of Wyangala Dam, the new Dungowan Dam and the new Mole River Dam in the Border Rivers are considered critical state-significant infrastructure, and can be completed faster.

Read more about the Water Supply (Critical Needs) Bill 2019

Recent drought roadshow

Recent drought roadshow

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and WaterNSW hosted a third round of community drought information sessions across inland NSW. Held in late October and throughout November, the sessions were well attended by local communities.

The communities heard about the:

current water supply situation, forecasts and drought management measures in the major river valleys

plans and actions for protecting fish populations during drought.

Communities were also given the chance to raise issues and present their views. You can see the presentations and responses to key issues raised at these sessions on the department’s website.

We’d like to thank the community for their attendance and valuable input at these sessions.

Basin Officials Committee meet in Dubbo

The Basin Officials Committee met earlier this month in Dubbo as part of a plan to improve transparency and engagement with key stakeholders and the community. The event, held over two days, included visiting sites and meeting local stakeholders.

Officials saw the impact of the drought on the landscape as they travelled through Dubbo and spoke to the community. They heard from the Taronga Western Plains Zoo about the stress on operations and the water-saving measures the zoo had put in place. They learned about the importance of fish weirs to native fish populations at a local weir, and the increasing significance of access to bore water for the region.

Much of the committee's discussion was focussed on preparation for the upcoming Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council meeting on 17 December.

At the last Ministerial Council meeting in August, the NSW and Victorian water ministers agreed to commission an independent panel to review the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s modelling for constraints measures projects, and all ministers agreed to appoint an independent expert panel to peer review the Murray River Capacity Risks Project. Both reviews are progressing well and the outcomes will be discussed at the December Ministerial Council meeting.

Water knowledge-sharing agreement with the State of Israel

NSW Minister for Water Melinda Pavey signing MOU with the State of Israel

On 4 November, the NSW Minister for Water Melinda Pavey signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the State of Israel to enhance cooperation in water resource management.

Australia and Israel face similar challenges with water security and drought. This MOU will act as a framework to increase collaboration between the jurisdictions. The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, working with the Embassy of Israel and the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, developed the MOU to share knowledge in areas including efficient use of water resources, recycling/re-use of wastewater, desalination, aquifer recharge and in-situ water conservation techniques.

Israel and NSW had an existing MOU agreeing to bilateral cooperation in research and development and technology innovation, which will enhance the new MOU. There have already been several delegates visiting between NSW and Israel, aiming to share water technology knowledge.

Winburndale Dam upgrade

Construction of Winburndale Dam

As part of the Safe and Secure Water Program, the NSW Government is working on a $10 million safety upgrade of Winburndale Dam. The works will include erosion protection, post-tensioning and embankment upgrades, a raised access bridge and outlet improvements.

Winburndale dam was built in the 1930s and supplies untreated water to the Bathurst region. The dam could also be a source of potable water in the future. The dam has a catchment area of 88 square kilometres and a full storage capacity of 1,700 mega-litres.  Outflows from the dam are released into the Winburndale Rivulet, flowing 60 kilometres before joining the Macquarie River.

Lowdown on logbooks and broken meters

Copy of logbook for broken meter reporting

Do you know all the details of your water access licence conditions?

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) has found that some water access licence holders aren’t keeping the water take records that their licence and approval conditions require.

Each water user is responsible for complying with all the conditions of their licences and approvals every time they take water. This allows water to be shared fairly between all users and the environment.

When NRAR officers visit licensed water users’ properties, they ask for records of water take. The department has logbook templates available to make recordkeeping for water users easier. You can download templates from the Water section of the department's website.

NRAR has also found that not everyone knows that they must inform WaterNSW within 24 hours if their meter stops working. Water users are encouraged to read the WaterNSW website for more information.

To make a confidential report about suspicious activities, including illegal water take, contact NRAR through the online form, by email nrar.enquiries@nrar.nsw.gov.au or on its hotline number 1800 633 362.

New on the water website

What is new on water website

Water quality information and resources for water users

Covering a range of topics such as stock water, irrigation water, blackwater and more, water users can now find water quality information and resources all in one place on the department's website.

Groundwater definition

What is groundwater?

This new section on the department's website provides information on groundwater and how it is managed in NSW. To brush up on your groundwater knowledge read more on our website.

Graph of LWU performance monitoring data and reports

Upgrades to the local water utilities performance dashboard

Our Water Utilities team has upgraded the online dashboard that displays local water utilities performance across regional NSW.

First launched in September, the dashboard now includes:

  • a larger range of key performance indicators
  • criteria grouped to improve search functions
  • the option to download selected data.

Future additions to the dashboard will include data from previous reporting periods.

You can access the dashboard on our website.  Send us your feedback on the dashboard.

Latest water news from the department.

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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