2017 Water sharing plan reviews

Water sharing plans establish rules for sharing water to balance the needs of all users, including the environment. These plans typically apply for a period of ten years. At the end of this term, the Minister for Primary Industries, Regional Water, and Trade and Industry may decide to replace or extend a plan. However, some water sharing plans will be replaced before this time as part of the Australian Government's Basin Plan reforms.

The Commission has a role under s.43A of the Water Management Act 2000 to advise the Minister on:

  • the extent that water sharing provisions of the plan have materially contributed towards achievement of the State priorities for Local Land Services that relate to natural resource management
  • whether changes to plan provisions are warranted.

In conducting this review, the Commission is to call for, and consider, public submissions and have regard to any other relevant state-wide and regional government policies or agreements that apply to the catchment management area. This includes intergovernmental agreements, such as the Basin Plan. Depending on its review findings, the Commission may recommend extension or remake of a water sharing plan.

In 2017, the Commission will review the following water sharing plans:

  • 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 NSW Border Rivers Regulated River Water Source 2009

The above reviews will be staged over the course of 2017. Review of the Border Rivers plan will commence in April while the review of other two plans will commence in July 2017.

Commission's review scope

The Commission’s reviews will focus on how plan provisions have contributed to State priorities for Local Land Services, specifically the following goals from the Local Land Services State Strategic Plan:

  • biosecure, profitable, productive and sustainable primary industries
  • resilient, self-reliant and prepared local communities
  • healthy, diverse and connected environments.

The reviews seeks to answer eight questions:

  1. In what ways have the plan provisions materially contributed to these goals?
  2. What changes to plan provisions are warranted to better achieve these goals?
  3. How could plan provisions be improved to reduce complexity and cost of implementation?
  4. How could plan provisions be improved so that regulatory obligations on businesses are reduced or made easier to understand and implement?
  5. How could plan objectives, performance indicators, monitoring and reporting be improved?
  6. How could plan provisions better address risks, commensurate with benefits and costs?
  7. Is the knowledge on which the plan provisions are based commensurate with the potential level of risk, scale and local importance?
  8. Is there significant new information on the underpinning science and assumptions?

Water Sharing Plan for the Border Rivers Regulated River Water Source

The Commission is reviewing this plan in parallel with DPI Water’s water resource plan development process, as this plan is due to expire the same year that DPI Water must deliver its water resource plans (i.e. in 2019).

DPI Water and the Commission jointly called for submissions to inform their respective processes. The submission period is now closed.

What is the water resource plan development process?
DPI Water is developing water resource plans, as per the requirements of the Basin Plan, for water resources within the Murray Darling Basin. These water resource plans are to be completed by 2019. Each water resource plan will be a set of instruments that together meet the requirements set out in the Basin Plan. NSW water sharing plans will be key instruments within each water resource plan.


If you have any enquiry about these reviews, please contact the Commission on (02) 9228 4844 or email to nrc@nrc.nsw.gov.au