Questions and answers from May's webinar

The following are questions by topic asked from the registration and during the Water Engagement Roundup webinar recorded on 19 May 2021.

Stakeholder engagement

Q. Last time I asked about DPIE policy staff being more accessible ie. through Water NSW CAG Murray.

A. Water Group representatives regularly attend WaterNSW Customer Advisory Group (CAG) meetings.

On request, the Water Group can provide policy staff and subject matter experts to attend a WaterNSW CAG meeting to address regionally specific issues. For example, subject matter experts recently attended to give an update on IPART pricing.

The next Murray-Lower Darling CAG meeting is scheduled for 27 July 2021.

Greater Sydney Water Strategy

Q. Any idea when the metropolitan water strategies are coming out for consultation?

A. The draft Metropolitan Water Sharing Plans, including the Draft Greater Metropolitan Region Groundwater Sources and the Draft Greater Metropolitan Region Unregulated River Water Sources water sharing plans, are expected to be on public exhibition in May 2022. It is anticipated that they will be finalised in December 2022.

The Draft Greater Sydney Water Strategy is currently being developed and public consultation is expected to occur in the second half of 2021.

During public exhibition, the department will consult with the community and stakeholders, providing an opportunity for submissions about the draft plans. Information about upcoming engagement activities and consultations is shared on the department’s stakeholder engagement webpage.

You can also subscribe to receive updates from the Water division.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Water markets

Q. Concerning the current ACCC inquiry on water markets, in the ‘have your say’ questionnaires is there a section we can submit a small document?

A. The Water Group is currently considering submissions received from the ACCC Murray Darling Basin water markets inquiry and preparing a ‘what we heard’ document.

Documents or further enquiries can be sent to: watermarkets@dpie.nsw.gov.au

Information on the ACCC’s role in water is available on the ACCC's website.

Regional Water Strategies

Q. Murray regional water strategy: is this to determine [which] flow rates are being proposed through the area, ie under SDLAM/CMS ie. part of the regional water strategy?

A. The Murray Regional Water Strategy will not determine flow rates for projects within the NSW Constraints Measures Program (CMP). The most recent projects announced as part of the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) acceleration package, particular to the CMP, do not come with a predetermined flow rate for the Murray River. These are considerations that will be developed collaboratively with stakeholders, working in partnership to investigate a variety of flow regimes and infrastructure solutions that minimise impacts whilst maximising benefits to local communities and the environment.

The Murray Regional Water Strategy will set out a long-term roadmap of actions to deliver resilient water resources for towns and communities, Aboriginal communities, the environment and industry. The strategy provides an opportunity to explore how to complement the CMP and SDLAM projects to help deliver improved water management outcomes in the Murray region.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has developed the Constraints Management Strategy (CMS) to manage constraints. In response to this strategy, the NSW CMP will determine impacts of increased flow rates required to deliver environmental water, negotiate preferred risk mitigation options with impacted landholders, and deliver on ground works to mitigate risks and remove constraints.

More information

The Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) Acceleration Program 

Q.  [Re] Minister Pavey’s announcement of accelerat[ion of] SDL projects, can NSW advise what [is the] flow rates position of NSW Govt on the Murray River under SDLAM/CMS?

A. In April 2021, the NSW and Federal governments agreed to bring forward the funding and delivery of five key SDLAM projects through the NSW SDLAM Acceleration Program, by June 2024.

We are committed to working with communities to better understand the opportunities and benefits these projects can bring, along with concerns people may have about their impacts.

The most recent projects announced as part of the SDLAM acceleration package, particular to the NSW Constraints Measures Program (CMP), do not come with a predetermined flow rate for the Murray River. These are considerations that will be developed collaboratively with stakeholders, working in partnership to investigate a variety of flow regimes and infrastructure solutions that minimise impacts whilst maximising benefits to local communities and the environment.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has developed the Constraints Management Strategy (CMS) to manage constraints. In response to this strategy, the NSW CMP determine impacts of increased flow rates required to deliver environmental water, negotiate preferred risk mitigation options with impacted landholders, and deliver on ground works to mitigate risks and remove constraints.

More information

Connectivity – northern and southern basin 

Q. Last time I asked about 'connectivity flows' from Northern Basin Water Sharing plans to Menindee and Murray River, ie apart from the 200 ML/d day limit past Wilcannia.

Just had a look [at the department’s answer provided in April] but that doesn’t answer the question.

I am seeking specific answers to actually how Northern Basin Water Sharing Plans and Floodplain Harvesting Plans ensure provisions for downstream connectivity.

A. The tributary rivers to the Barwon Darling include rules that ensure either end of system flows (Border Rivers and Namoi (for part of the year)) and/or limiting access to larger (supplementary) flows, to allow water to flow into the Barwon Darling.

On 6 May 2021, the NSW Legislative Council moved to disallow the government’s new regulations to enable the management, measurement and accounting of floodplain harvesting in NSW. The department is working through the implications of the disallowance, and options for how we proceed are being considered.

More information


Q. Connectivity specifications are only to Wilcannia, ie. 200ML/d which is totally inadequate.

A. Flows lower than 200ML/d for more than 90 days at Wilcannia are the trigger to implement the resumption of flow rules. These rules recognise the need to provide critical environmental and human water needs for the environment and communities in the Barwon Darling, and if the flow events are large enough, flows for environmental and human water needs at Menindee.

In an unregulated system such as the Barwon Darling, this is an appropriate intermediate target. The reviews and work currently being carried out are investigating how to better connect to Menindee, and therefore the Lower Darling and NSW Murray.


Q. If flows go under 200ML/d, a 90 clock begins upon which no action to cease extractions upstream can occur until 90  days has passed.

A. Flows lower than 200ML/d for more than 90 days at Wilcannia are the trigger to implement the resumption of flow rules. These rules recognise the need to provide critical environmental and human water needs for the environment and Wilcannia communities in the Barwon Darling. The 200ML/day for 90 days ensures that the water supply needs of Wilcannia are maintained.


Q. If a rain event occurs, and some level of minor flows occur, the 90 clock has to restart and therefore another 90 days begins before action.

A. Please see previous response. The Barwon Darling catchment accounts for approximately 3% of the flow in the river. The tributary rivers provide the other 97% of the flows in the river.


Q. We are trying to establish, what ‘if any’ rules ensure connectivity to Menindee, we have received no information in the  Southern Basin further to the above.

A. The current rule set ensures that the critical environmental and human needs are met in the Barwon Darling. The reviews and work currently being carried out are investigating how to better connect to Menindee and therefore the Lower Darling and NSW Murray.


Q.  We are asking the NSW Government to demonstrate how ‘connectivity’ between the Northern Basin and NSW Murray will be achieved?

A. The reviews and work currently being carried out are investigating how to better connect to Menindee and therefore the Lower Darling and NSW Murray.


Q. Please note: we all understand drought and no rain scenarios, we also all understand seasonal variability, the question is about seeking, what flow connectivity will be provided for when there are rainfall events/and/or flood events and how will the rules of take in the Northern Basin address the connectivity needs downstream to NSW Murray (via Menindee).

A. The recent flood event, previous flow events and management actions, demonstrate that rainfall and flood events will result in water flowing into Menindee. In the recent flood, northern Basin water users accessed supplementary and flood water, and it is forecast that 850GL of water will flow into Menindee.

Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) projects

Q. Are you able to provide an update on SDLAM projects in NSW?

A. For information on each of the NSW Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism projects, and frequently asked questions, visit: https://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/water/plans-programs/sdlam

Register for updates on SDLAM projects.


Q. We have asked for a NSW state review for southern basin 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 projects are proceeding without community support and there may be really positive amendments but the system is not allowing.

A. Stakeholder engagement and community acceptance remains a key part of the NSW Government’s plans to deliver sensible projects that realise the full range of objectives of the Murray Darling Basin Plan. We will continue to consult with relevant Stakeholder Advisory Groups and Technical Advisory Groups and the broader community across all SDLAM projects. Stakeholders can also receive information on the SDLAM projects by subscribing to receive regular SDLAM email updates. Subscribe for email updates.


Q. Sustainable Diversion Adjustment Project including Constraints Management Strategy.

A. SDLAM can be achieved through supply, including constraints, or efficiency measures. For more information about the Constraints Management Strategy, visit the Murray-Darling Basin Authority: https://www.mdba.gov.au/basin-plan-roll-out/managing-constraints


Q. Where can we find details of the input and discussion points from the stakeholder advisory group for the three meetings that have already occurred?

A. The membership for the Menindee Lakes Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) is publicly available on the department’s website:

https://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/squiz-sandbox/sdlam/menindee-lakes-project

Should you require clarity on the topics discussed at the Menindee Lakes SAG meetings, the department can assist in contacting Chairman, Mr Terry Smith on your behalf or alternatively can provide Mr Smith with your contact details.

Harvestable Rights

Q. I would like to know if there are any changes to be made in the near future as to harvest rights in the area of Condobolin as it is imperative that we do something about it as the farmers here desperate to save more onsite water on their farms it needs to be erased to 40% in our area this will stop wash aways of roads and erosion

A. The department’s Water Group is currently reviewing harvestable right limits in coastal-draining catchments only.

There is currently no plan to review harvestable rights in inland catchments as they are subject to sustainable diversion limits under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. Under the Basin Plan, any increase in water take under harvestable rights would need to be offset by a reduction in other forms of take, such as licensed entitlement or basic landholder rights.

For more information on sustainable diversion limits under the Murray Darling Basin Plan, please visit the Murray-Darling Basin Authority website.

Document access / archiving

Q. Can you also keep old background documents online? Is it possible to see old versions of the WSPs?

A. Information on water sharing plans in each region are available via the interactive map of our website.

In addition to the current plans, prior plans are available in the far right column, ‘Prior Water Sharing Plan and status.’

Hunter region

Q. What are the current and forthcoming projects happening around Hunter region?

A. In May 2021, the Water Group held meetings with targeted stakeholders affected by the replacement of the Water Sharing Plan for the Hunter Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2009. The public exhibition dates are yet to be determined.

The Water Group also held two public face-to-face stakeholder consultation meetings on 9 April 2021 in Tocal, for the Coastal Harvestable Rights Review. We are currently reviewing the feedback, submissions and survey results. For more information please visit our Harvestable Rights Review webpage.

The Water Group will provide further information on forthcoming projects in the Water Engagement Roundup – Questions and Answers, June 2021.

We are unable to comment on projects outside of the department’s Water Group.

Public registers

Q.  Can you direct to public register of water ownership as per Water Act 2007 requirements, thank you.

A. The NSW Water Register combines information from several public registers related to water entitlements in NSW:.

The NSW Water Register is complemented by the Water Access Licenses (WAL) Register, which provides more detailed information on every water access licence in NSW under the Water Management Act 2000.

Research

Q. What are the avenues for University researchers to collaborate in programs from NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment - Water.

A. The Water Group has a science research prospectus on our website.

We also engage with the University sector regularly to gain skills to complement the skills we have in the department on specific projects. The NSW Government also have a network for broader research called the Waratah Research network.