Questions and answers from August's webinar

The following are questions by topic asked from the registration and during the Water Engagement Roundup webinar recorded on 18 August 2021.

Stakeholder engagement

Q. Can the answer to the questions taken on notice be made available to the wider community on the call please?

A. Yes, all questions and answers are emailed to participants following the webinar session and published on the Water Engagement Roundup page.


Q. Could you send me the link to the consultation policy for Local Government?

A. The department does not have a separate policy for local government consultations and engagement.

We recognise that local councils are an important stakeholder and have significant water expertise for their region. We, therefore, ensure local councils are a key part of our engagement approach and provide input to our water planning. Recent examples are the development of regional water strategies, local water sharing plans and the Town Water Risk Reduction Program. Each of these have included significant consultations with local councils and joint organisations.

Water sharing plan

Q. Why is the Alstonville Basalt Aquifer part of the North Coast/Fractured and porous Rock Groundwater sources Water Sharing Plans (water sharing plans) not an at-risk source - given it is already over allocated?

A. There are currently 32 ‘at-risk’ groundwater sources set out in Schedule 9 of the Water Management (General) Regulation 2018 - NSW Legislation. This list was established in December 2018, when the non-urban metering rules became law.

Over time, additional groundwater sources may be added to the at-risk groundwater sources list if they meet one of the criteria.

Metering

Q. Can you explain circumstances where manual reporting is allowed under the new rules?

A. Manual reporting of water take is required in the following circumstances:

  • annually - where a work does not require a meter
  • monthly - where a work is metered but does not have telemetry
  • monthly - where a work is metered and is used to take both water under a licence and under a basic landholder right (regardless of whether the work has telemetry)

The recording and reporting requirements are summarised below:

New reporting rules

New reporting rules for metered water users - Water in New South Wales (nsw.gov.au)


Q. Are more Duly Qualified Persons (DQP) being trained/certified? The shortage of DQP has hindered compliance up to this point as pointed out by the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR).

A. NSW’s non-urban metering reforms have driven a significant increase in the number of certified meter installers. In 2018, when the new metering rules became law, there were around 30 certified meter installers in NSW. As of 13 August 2021, there were 162 certified meter installers, with 129 in private practice.

The Natural Resource Access Regulator (NRAR) has not identified a lack of duly qualified persons as a hinderance to compliance.

Irrigation Australia limited, the certifying body for duly qualified persons, runs courses according to demand.

Courses can be run online or face to face, with a small practical component, and are subsidised by the NSW Government as part of the Smart and Skilled Program.

Irrigation Australia’s next certified meter installer course is scheduled for October and will be run online.

We encourage you to contact Irrigation Australia Limited to arrange a certified meter installer course for you and your community.

Please find more information at Metering requirements and specifications - Water in New South Wales (nsw.gov.au).


Q. The telemetry specifications are clear and practical for users who have a small number of closed conduit meters that they take water from.

How do you see the telemetry specifications Local Intelligence Devices (LiDs) and data acquisition service (DAS) being clearly and practically implemented on large open channel flowmeter installations that interface with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems for network control and provide remote access to a DQPs to maintain index tables to keep the site within the required accuracy.

A. For open-channel measurement the Telemetry will function as per other applications. The LiDs and DAS will require an altered configuration for bringing back the alternate parameters for this type of instrument.

The current Telemetry Specifications and approved LIDs do not allow for parallel connection to other on-farm systems (e.g. SCADA). The department, the Natural Resource Access Regulator (NRAR) and WaterNSW are currently actively investigating, in collaboration with industry, pathways to provide this option.

For more information visit NSW Non-urban water metering policy.


Q. If I have a suction on a pump less than a hundred, do I need a meter or not? This is taking works from our storage facilities, not on the river.

A. The metering requirements apply to works taking water from regulated rivers, unregulated rivers, and groundwater systems under a licence, where the take can be measured with a meter.

The metering requirements do not apply to works that do not directly take water from a water source, such as works used to move water that has already been taken and accounted for from your on-farm storage.

There are several triggers for the metering rules and a number of exemptions.

We encourage water users to use the department’s Metering Guidance Tool to determine if the metering rules apply to them.

If you are still unsure, you can email us at metering.reform@dpie.nsw.gov.au with a copy of your work approval or water access licence details.


Q. Regarding a Bore is the requirement of a meter based on the size of the bore casing or size of the pump in the hole?

A. The Non-urban metering policy refers to diameter as ‘the external diameter of the bore casing’ (p 4).


Q. How do you apply for the telemetry rebate?

A. There is no need for a water user to ‘apply’ for the telemetry rebate.

Eligible water users will automatically receive a $975 credit on their water bill when their meter is connected to the NSW Government's telemetry system.

The rebate scheme will be up and running in 2021-22 and rebates will be backdated to include water users who have already connected.

Funding announcement - Water in New South Wales (nsw.gov.au)


Q. Has the NSW Government resolved whether government owned buried meters, where if charging prohibits continued ownership by government and users opt to go private, i.e. will those meters be 'unburied' to allow future compliance to be enabled?

WaterNSW advises that if the water user has opted out of the government owned fleet, they are no longer part of a fleet and therefore cannot use a fleet-based approach, therefore will need to be excavated.


Q. The 162 certified meter installers are still considered by the irrigation industry as insufficient - hence the high number of "non-compliance" results (e.g., 47% of >500mm pumps) - many are compliant ready but unable to be inspected.

NSW’s non-urban metering reforms have driven a significant increase in the number of certified meter installers.

In 2018, when the new metering rules became law, there were around 30 certified meter installers in NSW. As of 13th August 2021, there are 162 certified meter installers, with 129 in private practice.

The department expects this trend to continue as demand for metering services increases.

Irrigation Australia, the certifying body for duly qualified persons, runs courses according to demand. Courses can be run online with a small practical component. The courses are accredited as subsidised courses as part of the NSW Government’s Smart and Skilled Program.

We acknowledge the magnificent work duly qualified person do and meet with them regularly to support them.


Q. Irrigators are generally supportive of the metering programme but do struggle with justifying some of the expense with outcomes.

Does the NSW Government have any appetite to do a very practical review of the value of meeting AS4747. I am aware of one irrigator who spent $40,000 on one site putting in a compliant meter, but also kept installed his Mace Series II. Both have measured exactly the same water use - where is the benefit?

A. AS4747 is the National Standard for non-urban metering, and all basin states have agreed to implement non-urban metering rules that require AS4747 compliant equipment.

Since NSW’s non-urban metering rules became law in 2018, the number of pattern-approved meters has increased from 8 to 15. The department expects this trend to continue, creating choice and competition.

It is open for any meter manufacturer, including MACE, to apply to the National Measurement Institute to have their product pattern approved.

NSW’s non-urban metering rules also allow water users with non-pattern approved meters installed before 1 April 2019 to keep them, provided they are shown to be accurate and fitted with a local intelligence device.

The department acknowledges that waters users bear the costs of purchasing and installing meters.

There are a range of programs that farmers can access to offset the financial impact of purchasing metering equipment.

  • The NSW and Australian Government have committed $18 million for a telemetry rebate program for water users who install compliant telemetry equipment. Under the program, eligible water users will automatically receive a $975 credit on their water bill when their meter is connected to the NSW Government's telemetry system.
  • Under the Australian Government’s instant asset write off scheme, farmers can deduct the full purchase price of assets up to $150,000 – such as metering equipment – from their taxable income.
  • The NSW Farm Innovation Fund provides loans to meet the costs of carrying out capital works, including metering, that benefit the long-term profitability of businesses.

Please find details in the NSW Non-Urban Water Metering Policy The policy explains the requirements of the new framework. The Act and regulation give legal effect to the new framework.


Q. How much are the meters - how do you know if you need a meter?

A. Meter costs vary between manufacturers depend on the size and the nature of the infrastructure being metered.

To find out if you need a meter:

  1. Check your licence and approval details on the NSW Water Register to see if you are already required to have a meter
  2. Use our interactive online metering guidance tool to see if and how the new metering rules apply to you.
  3. Contact a duly qualified person (DQP), such as a certified meter installer (CMI), to discuss your situation. A list of certified meter installers can be found on Irrigation Australia’s website at irrigationaustralia.com.au.

Q. Is there a point when the network can use other modems as repeaters if in poor communication areas?

A. The government’s telemetry system uses Telstra’s secure ‘Narrow Band Internet of Things’ (NB-IOT) network

The NB-IOT network is designed to minimise power consumption and maximise coverage and is well suited to water metering in remote locations.

The department is working with WaterNSW to identify a suitable provider of satellite telemetry services for water users who are not serviced by the Telstra NB-IOT network.

SDLAM projects 

Q. We have asked for a NSW state review for southern basin Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) projects, ie. we have repeatedly requested a meeting to have a review to incorporate new information, ideas, etc our community is concerned that SDL (Sustainable Diversion Limit) projects are proceeding without community support and there may be really positive amendments /ideas, but Govt processes still do not seem to enable such discussions or progression of ideas.

A. The Minister for Water, Property and Housing, Melinda Pavey MP, launched the Reconnecting River Country Program (the program) on Wednesday, 4 August 2021. https://melindapavey.com.au/work-begins-to-reconnect-river-country-in-the-southern-murray-darling-basin/

The program is designed to ensure water for the environment in the southern connected Murray-Darling Basin is delivered where and when it is needed to improve the health and resilience of basin rivers, wetlands and floodplains.

The NSW Government has gone back to the drawing board, looked at the lessons learned from previous consultations and has designed a program which is focused on working more collaboratively and extensively with the community to meet local needs, using the best available science and modelling. The program’s focus is on local community benefits as part of the NSW Government’s commitment to delivering sensible, community driven Murray-Darling Basin Plan outcomes.

We have commenced engagement on this program and will continue to work closely with stakeholders and communities to ensure this new program best meets their needs and delivers program outcomes by:

  • increasing the rigour of scientific and technical studies to support the achievement of the program’s outcomes
  • ensuring communities are provided with easily understood, fit for purpose information to support increased program awareness and understanding and therefore informed stakeholder feedback to consider and incorporate in project development
  • collaborating with communities on potential impacts, benefits, flow regimes, flow maps and mitigation measures to design projects based on outcomes that are valuable to those communities
  • collaborating with First Nations, who will play a critical role in informing the approach of the program. We have a dedicated team working with First Nations groups to ensure we collaborate effectively on flow regimes and impact mitigation
  • creating positive local and regional environmental outcomes achieved through the more effective use of water for the environment.

The program is being led by Water Infrastructure NSW which sits within the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Water (the department), in partnership with the department’s Biodiversity, Conservation and Science Directorate as well as Local Land Services (LLS) and Department of Primary Industry – Fisheries.

The program shares the Hume to Yarrawonga project with Victoria, along with leading the management of the Yarrawonga to Wakool project which has some potentially affected Victorian landholders. NSW will work closely with the Victorian government to ensure that there will be appropriate consistency in approach, technical information and ensure no impact to Victorian communities as a consequence of the NSW program.

Further program information can be found at dpie.nsw.gov.au/reconnecting-river-country-program.