Water eNews October 2019

Water news


Drought update

Drought update for October 2019 - rolling hills

Drought conditions in northern-inland and far-west NSW are now worse than in previous recorded droughts, including the Millennium and the Second World War droughts. While these regions have experienced two-year periods of sustained low river flows in the past, we are now in an unprecedented third year.

You can read updates on the drought situation across NSW, the critical valleys and issues, and information sheets on our Drought Update webpage.

Upcoming drought information sessions

The Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment and WaterNSW will hold a third round of community drought information sessions across inland NSW from late October through November.

These sessions will:

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

be an opportunity for the community to raise issues and present their views.

Please see our website for the dates, times and locations.  We'll also host an online webinar.

Presentations and responses to questions raised at the previous community drought information sessions can also be viewed on the department’s website.

Man operating water quality equipment

Thirty new projects were announced this month as part of the NSW Government’s Safe and Secure Water Program (SSWP). The projects will help reduce water wastage and increase access to clean water and wastewater infrastructure in regional NSW communities.

Some of the projects announced include:

  • $6.85 million to upgrade a water treatment plant on the central coast to allow more water to be treated for use
  • $4.87 million to replace individual septic tanks with the installation of a new sewerage system for Barellan on the western Riverina
  • $1.35 million to have a 55-year-old reservoir replaced in Bourke
  • more than $1million to plan new pipeline links for Parkes, Forbes and Gooloogong.

Learn more about the SSWP's projects

Metering rollout revised due to drought

The NSW Government is adjusting the start dates for metering rules to ensure farmers can meet strict new metering obligations being rolled out in the Northern Basin, as the drought continues across the state.

Jim Bentley, the Chief Executive of Water said the government recognises the current drought conditions make it impossible for many water users to comply with the metering rules by 1 December 2019.

The adjusted start dates for the new meeting rules will be:

  • 1 December 2020 – surface water pumps 500mm and above - All regions
  • 1 December 2021 – remaining works that require a meter - Northern Inland regions
  • 1 December 2022 – remaining works that require a meter - Southern Inland regions
  • 1 December 2023 – remaining works that require a meter – Coastal regions

The changes to the dates will not affect the government’s commitment to implement the rules in full by the end of 2023, and water users have reconfirmed they will meet the new rules once the conditions allow.

Water users are encouraged to check the existing monitoring and recording conditions on their water access licences and approvals for pumps and other water supply works.

Read the full media release

Great Artesian Basin springs survey

Man taking measurements for Great Artesian Basin springs survey

The department’s water science team is collecting information on the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) springs to answer key questions about groundwater and record its wildlife. The area supports endangered plant and animal communities and holds significant cultural values for many rural communities.

The water science team is studying the GAB springs water chemistry and characteristics to find out the age of the groundwater and where it has come from. It is also identifying and recording the local wildlife to show the ecological importance of the area. The information the team gathers will provide a baseline to track changes in the springs over time.

The research aligns with the national Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan and will help us to manage groundwater more effectively in the area. Knowledge from this research will inform future projects, such as the review of the Water Sharing Plan for the NSW Great Artesian Basin Groundwater Sources 2008. The work is also in line with the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI) that benefits the environment and water users.

Find out more about the Great Artesian Basin

Floodplain harvesting policy set for action

Public information session

After 10 years of development, the floodplain harvesting policy has taken a significant leap into action through an intensive independent peer-review and consultation process.

Floodplain harvesting is one of the most challenging water reforms in Australia. It requires pioneering modelling to accurately quantify its size and scale. The federal government has committed up to $7.9 million to improve the underlying models applied to floodplain harvesting to deliver better outcomes to downstream communities and rivers.

Last month, experts from the NSW Government, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) and independent peer reviewers delivered public information sessions on the floodplain harvesting action plan. Sessions were held across NSW and via webinar.

Further consultation is planned for 2020, with the intent to bring floodplain harvesting into the regulatory framework by the end of 2021.

Learn more about the floodplain harvesting program.

Have your say: on public exhibition

Have your say on public exhibition

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