2017-2018 Water sharing plan reviews

Water sharing plans establish rules for sharing water to balance the needs of all users, including the environment. These plans apply for a period of ten years from their commencement.

At the end of a plan's term, the Minister responsible for the Water Management Act 2000 (the Act) may decide to make a new replacement plan or extend a water sharing plan for a further ten years. In making this decision, the Minister must consider a report from the Commission in accordance with s.43A of the Act.

Reviews of three water sharing plans

In 2017-2018, the Commission completed reviews of three water sharing plans and provided advice to Government:

  • Water Sharing Plan for the NSW Border Rivers Regulated River Water Source 2009
  • Water Sharing Plan for the Bellinger River Area Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2008
  • Water Sharing Plan for the NSW Great Artesian Basin Groundwater Sources 2008.
Water sharing plan for the Border Rivers

The Commission recommended that the Plan be replaced with a new management plan in order to:

  • improve clarity of strategies, objectives and performance indicators
  • improve monitoring of outcomes
  • improve outcomes from environmental flows
  • clarify language for stakeholders and make it consistent with terminology in other plans.
  • improve opportunities for trade.
Water sharing plan for the Bellinger River Area

The Commission recommended that the Plan be replaced with a new management plan in order to:

  • improve clarity of strategies, objectives and performance indicators
  • improve monitoring of outcomes
  • improve outcomes from environmental flows
  • improve outcomes for the Aboriginal community
  • clarify language for stakeholders and make it consistent with terminology in other plans.
Water sharing plan for the NSW Great Artesian Basin

The Commission recommended that the Plan be replaced with a new management plan in order to:

  • clarify the language of the Plan to ensure that current over-entitlement in the recharge sources is transparent to water users and allows users to manage risk to future allocation
  • update the calculations and assumptions underlying the Plan to ensure that it reflects best available current knowledge, including the review and update of annual extraction limits, and identification of high priority groundwater dependent ecosystems
  • enhance the identification and protection of Aboriginal cultural values
  • update the requirements related to metering and reporting in line with Government policy
  • improve overall Plan clarity, including the establishment of logical links between objectives, strategies and performance indicators.

Government response to the Commission's reviews

In July 2018, the NSW Government adopted the Commission’s recommendation to replace the Border Rivers Regulated River Water Source plan (see above).

The Minister has also extended the Great Artesian Basin Groundwater Sources and Bellinger River Unregulated and Alluvial Sources plans for two years to allow time to make new plans, taking into consideration the Commission's advice and recent Government policy changes.