2018-2019 Water sharing plan reviews

Water sharing plans establish rules for sharing water between water users and the environment.

These plans typically apply for a period of ten years. At the end of this period, the Minister for Regional Water may decide to replace or extend a plan.

Under s.43A of the Water Management Act 2000, the Commission is to provide advice to the Minister on:

  • the extent that water sharing provisions have contributed to environmental, social and economic outcomes
  • whether changes to those provisions are warranted.

Review of the Barwon-Darling Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2012

The Natural Resources Commission invites submissions from the public to inform its review of the Water Sharing Plan for the Barwon-Darling Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2012 (Barwon-Darling water sharing plan). Submissions close 5pm, Sunday 31st March 2019.

This is your opportunity to comment on the plan which governs water sharing arrangements in the Barwon-Darling, associated environmental, social and economic outcomes and identify any opportunities for improvement.

Have your say

What is a water sharing plan?

Water sharing plans are statutory instruments that set out rules for how water is shared across a range of water users. This includes water for the environment, communities, cultural purposes, commercial requirements (e.g. irrigation) and utilities (town water needs). Plans are prepared by the NSW Government Department of Industry–Water.

Why are independent reviews of these plans important?

Independent reviews are an opportunity to better understand where improvements can be made to ensure that the environmental, social and economic needs are being met.

They provide the Minister with evidence to inform a decision to make a new plan or extend an existing plan when a water sharing plan approaches expiry.

The draft report will be made available for consultation in mid year at the same time as the public exhibition of the draft water resource plan.

The final report will be made available on the Commission’s website, ensuring transparency of findings and recommendations.

When does the Barwon-Darling water sharing plan expire?

The Barwon-Darling water sharing plan is due to expire in July 2022. However, it will be updated as part of the Water Resource Plan process required under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Why is a review of the water sharing plan occurring now?

The Minister for Regional Water, with the support of the Premier, approached the Natural Resources Commission about bringing forward its independent review of the Barwon-Darling water sharing plan review.

Recent fish kills in the Darling River and high public interest in the way that this water sharing plan is operating are key drivers for early commencement of the review.

The review is a statutory requirement under the Water Management Act 2000.

What will the review focus on?

The review will focus on the extent to which the water sharing provisions in the plan have materially contributed to the achievement of, or the failure to achieve, environmental, social and economic outcomes. It will also identify whether changes to these provisions are warranted.

Water source connectivity will also be a key focus of the review in recognition of the connected nature of the waterways of the northern Basin.

Evaluation questions include:

  1. To what extent do you feel the water sharing plan is meeting its objectives and aligns with the objectives of the Water Management Act 2000?
  2. Can the water sharing plan better contribute to environmental outcomes? If so, how?
  3. Can the water sharing plan better contribute to social outcomes? If so, how?
  4. Can the water sharing plan better contribute to economic outcomes? If so, how?
  5. Do you have any other comments that you would like the Commission to consider?

How does this review fit with the Water Resource Plan process and other water reforms underway?

The review is being coordinated with the Water Resource Plan process being progressed by the NSW Department of Industry - Water. It will avoid duplication of effort and will inform the Water Resource Plan process where possible.

Over the course of its review, the Commission will also engage with Government agencies responsible for water reforms, including but not limited to, better management of environmental water, floodplain harvesting and metering, and will consider these reforms in developing its advice.

How can I make a submission?

There are three ways to make a submission:
Online: Click here to make a submission
Email: nrc@nrc.nsw.gov.au
Mail: Water sharing plan reviews
Natural Resources Commission
GPO Box 5341
Sydney NSW 2001

When making a submission please:

  • provide any relevant information that supports your views
  • note that all submissions will be made public on the Commission’s website unless clearly marked confidential or it contains material that is defamatory, offensive or in breach of any law
  • submissions may also be shared with the NSW Department of Industry.

Reviews of coastal water sharing plans

In 2018-19, the Commission will review water sharing plans for the:

The first two plans to be reviewed are those for the Coffs Harbour Area and the Central Coast.

More information, such as water source rules and background documents, is available on the Department of Industry website.

Have your say

Submissions have now closed to inform the Commission's review of water sharing plans for the:

However, if you still wish to provide feedback on the above plans, please contact the Commission on 02 9228 4844 to make arrangements for a late submission.

In your submission, please include the name(s) of the water sharing plan(s) about which you are making a submission, and address the following questions:

  1. To what extent do you feel the plan has contributed to social outcomes?
  2. To what extent do you feel the plan has contributed to environmental outcomes?
  3. To what extent do you feel the plan has contributed to economic outcomes?
  4. To what extent do you feel the plan has contributed to meeting its objectives?
  5. What changes do you feel are needed to the water sharing plan to improve outcomes?