Review of the requirements and administrative processes for Integrated Water Cycle Management Strategies

Sunset on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, Hay, NSW, Australia

NOTE: This advice is for NSW councils and local water utilities who are currently preparing an Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) Strategy or about to commence that process.

The new Town Water Risk Reduction Program has been established to work with the sector to identify long-term solutions to the most fundamental barriers facing local water utilities. The program is based on a new partnership approach, which recognises and leverages the wealth of expertise within councils and local water utilities and provides opportunities for these stakeholders to design and refine better solutions in collaboration with the department.

Our focus on how we can improve our approach to strategic planning and IWCM is in response to the concerns of stakeholders in the water and local government sectors and the recommendations of the recent performance report from the Auditor-General for New South Wales - Support for regional town water infrastructure.

One of the first issues identified by stakeholders for review and improvement is the department’s approach to regulating and supporting the implementation of IWCM strategies. In particular, improving the transparency, accountability and efficiency which govern the department’s assessment of IWCM strategies.

The primary purpose of this advice is to ensure that councils and local water utilities that are currently developing an IWCM Strategy can make an informed decision about how to proceed with their planning.

What future changes should councils expect?

The review of the IWCM processes is intended to have a fresh look at the issues identified by stakeholders. We will leverage the wealth of expertise within councils, local water utilities and government agencies to improve the regulatory and support framework for local water utility strategic planning.

We expect that changes from the review will take effect from 1 July 2022.

The review is in partnership with councils and local water utilities and will consider the:

  • role of strategic planning for local water utilities
  • components of the existing IWCM strategic planning framework and how they interact
  • needs of councils and local water utilities to have timely access to climate risk and water availability data and modelling approaches for their water sources
  • clarity of the department’s definitions, assessment criteria, procedures and timeframes for the assessment of IWCM strategies
  • monitoring and publicly reporting on the status of IWCM strategies’ development and implementation
  • assistance the department provides to local water utilities to procure value-for-money services for IWCM Strategy development.

Next steps