What should councils and local water utilities do now?

View of Lake St Clair in the Hunter valley, New South Wales.

Councils who have an adopted IWCM Strategy as a basis for their current strategic program should continue to use that plan.

Councils who are currently preparing an IWCM Strategy or about to commence that process should consider the following options on how to proceed:

  1. Continue and finalise their IWCM Strategy under the existing arrangements.  Each council’s existing funding arrangements will continue. Councils who continue to develop, but are not able to finalise, their IWCM Strategy before the review is complete will not be disadvantaged by any review changes.
  2. Defer the preparation of some components of the IWCM Strategy until the new processes take effect. For example, a council may choose to defer the preparation of the water supply OR the sewerage portion of their IWCM Strategy while the review is underway. Relevant funding deeds can be updated to reflect amended timelines for key milestones.
  3. Delay the planned development of their IWCM Strategy until the review is complete and review changes are in effect.

If you would like to discuss the option delaying or deferring a component of your IWCM Strategy, please contact your Department of Planning, Industry and Environment–Water Regional Contact.

We request councils who are currently preparing an IWCM Strategy or about to commence that process notify the department in writing to sswp@dpie.nsw.gov.au where they intend to defer or delay the preparation of some or all of their IWCM Strategy by 30 June 2021.

Councils and local water utilities are still eligible to receive co-funding to continue developing an IWCM Strategy as per the options above through the NSW Government Safe and Secure Water Program.

Next steps

We urge all councils and local water utilities to share their views to the consultation process to improve the clarity, coordination and value for money of the department’s approach to IWCM strategies as well as the transparency, accountability and efficiency of the administrative processes which govern the department’s assessment of IWCM Strategies.

The department is commencing an engagement process with the local water utility sector to co-design a roadmap and action plan for the Town Water Risk Reduction Program. We are planning to hold a series of workshops in May 2021 with councils, local water utilities and other stakeholders. In preparation we will undertake interviews with stakeholders including some councils and local water utilities.

Councils will also have the opportunity to volunteer the preparation of their IWCM Strategy as a pilot to co-design components of the new framework for IWCM strategies in partnership with the Town Water Risk Reduction Program.

If you would like to discuss the option delaying or deferring a component of your IWCM Strategy, please contact your Department of Planning, Industry and Environment–Water Regional Contact.

Expressions of interest to volunteer to co-design are requested by 30 June 2021 to regional.town.water@dpie.nsw.gov.au. We will contact councils and local water utilities in July 2021 in response to their expressions of interest. We intend to work with 2 – 5 councils and local water utilities to co-design components of the new framework. We will also continue to engage with the wider sector throughout 2021 and 2022.