Water eNews May 2019
MAY 2019 | ISSUE #4
The drought is intensifying across the state. The NSW Government is increasing its drought management measures to protect the water in our river systems for critical needs.
The following valleys recently moved into new drought stages:
- Macquarie – stage 4 (critical)
- Border Rivers, Gwydir, Peel, and Belubula – stage 3 (severe)
- Murray, Murrumbidgee and Lachlan – stage 2 (emerging)
- The Lower Darling, Lower Namoi and Barwon-Darling remain on the highest level – Stage 4 critical drought.
Our rural communities have told us they want to receive ongoing information about water availability and the 2019/20 outlook to help them plan ahead. We are holding further drought information sessions across inland NSW between 22 May and 7 June to share more information.
Update on temporary water restrictions
Namoi and Macquarie water sources
A temporary water restriction for the Namoi and Macquarie water sources has been lifted after a small rain event on 4-5 May. The restriction was put in place to protect inflows for essential needs and to help reconnect sections of the Namoi, Macquarie, and Barwon River.
The protected flows helped to replenish town water and critical water supplies, and reconnected sections of the river. The current flows are not enough to support the entire length of the Namoi or Barwon-Darling rivers, so the restriction is being lifted. This has allowed smaller farm operations to access flows for stock and winter crops.
The department and WaterNSW will continue to monitor the situation in the Namoi and Macquarie, including the need for water restrictions following rainfall events, in order to secure and deliver water to the highest priority needs in accordance with the NSW Extreme Events Policy and WaterNSW operations plans.
Barwon-Darling water source
The temporary water restriction in the Barwon-Darling has been extended to include the management zones between Mungindi and Menindee. Cyclone Trevor and some local rainfall in April has sent flows through the Warrego catchment, with additional environmental water coming from the north.
We are protecting the flows for critical water uses, to support human health and safety, and to break the cease-to-flow in the Barwon Darling. The temporary water restriction which was in place until 30 June 2019 now extends until 30 August 2019.
Securing Greater Sydney's water supply
To protect Greater Sydney’s water supply, the NSW Government has announced level 1 water restrictions will come into effect across Greater Sydney (Sydney, Blue Mountains and the Illawarra) from 1 June.
With the ongoing drought, there’s more pressure on Greater Sydney’s water resources. The NSW Government has introduced early restrictions on outdoor water use to conserve water for the future. Businesses can apply for an exemption if outdoor water use is critical to their operations.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Water tour southern region
Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Minister for Water, Property and Housing, Melinda Pavey have toured the south of the state this month.
This follows the tour last month in the north where Minister Pavey met stakeholders in Broken Hill, Menindee, Pooncarie, Walgett, Brewarrina, Moree, Narrabri and Bourke.
The latest visits kicked off with a very chilly start to the day in Albury and tour of the Hume Dam. Member for Albury, Justin Clancy also joined the Deputy Premier and Minister for the Albury and Jerilderie engagement sessions.
The group then arrived in Deniliquin for a tour of the Sun Rice Mill, a meeting with Edward River Shire Council and visit to Charlie Carp.
They then toured Coleambally Irrigation, then moved on to Jerilderie to meet with Murrumbidgee Shire Council and then into Griffith to catch-up with Griffith Shire Council.
Aboriginal water and sewerage program
We have partnered with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council to improve and maintain water and sewerage services in over 60 Aboriginal communities across New South Wales. Together, we’ll invest $200 million over 20 years to maintain, monitor, repair and upgrade water and sewage infrastructure in these communities.
The Aboriginal water and sewerage program has been running for 10 years. In that time it has improved the water and sewerage services for over 6,000 people living in Aboriginal communities.
This work helps raise the quality of statewide services in Aboriginal communities so that they are comparable to mainstream communities. It also provides training, apprenticeships and employment to local Aboriginal people.
Floodplain harvesting independent review released
Floodplain harvesting is the capture and use of water flowing across a floodplain. It’s the last significant use of water in the Murray-Darling Basin to be licensed.
To be sure we’re getting it right, we commissioned an independent review of implementation of the Floodplain Harvesting Policy in northern NSW. Over the last six months, the review team has been working with stakeholders to get their feedback on the policy and ensure the information is clear and technically accurate.
We want our stakeholders to be confident the policy will work. The review team has prepared a draft report from the information they’ve received so far, which includes recommendations on how to improve what we’re doing. We’re currently working on an action plan in response to the review.
One year with NRAR
The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) marked its first birthday on 30 April. In its first year, NRAR has completed 58 audits and 211 property inspections, and sent 326 advisory and formal warning letters. That work has proven itself necessary, with 40 penalty infringement notices issued, and eight prosecutions going to court.
Overall, NRAR has closed 568 cases and has over 600 more on the books.
NRAR has also received over 4000 enquiries and 773 breach allegations in the last twelve months. It’s been a busy year! But there’s plenty more to do, and NRAR can’t do it alone. If you have something to report, you can contact us on 1800 633 362 or through our website.
Looking forward, NRAR will be focusing on priority issues including unauthorised water extraction and controlled activities in river basins with high hydrological and ecological values.
You can check out their regulatory priorities here
Upcoming water metering information sessions
The NSW Government is putting new non-urban water metering rules in place. The new rules will come into place over the next five years, affecting larger water users first.
We’ll be holding information sessions across NSW in the middle of the year to help water users understand the rules. We’ll be there to discuss how we make sure the rules can be implemented effectively.
We will put details of these information sessions on our website shortly.
Latest news from the department
- Extra $811k to secure Bourke and Louth drinking water
- Public consultations being held to help communities conserve their water supplies
- Floodplain Harvesting Framework on right track
- Public input invited for Paterson Regulated River Water Sharing Plan
- Water Regulator shepherds environmental water flows in state’s north
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