2018 Water sharing plan reviews (3 plans)


Advice provided

Advice date:

May-June 2018


The Commission) reviewed the following water sharing plans to assess the extent to which the plans have achieved their environmental, social, cultural and economic outcomes, and advised on whether changes to the plan provisions are warranted.

  • 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.

The Commission recommended that water sharing plan for the:

  • Border Rivers be replaced with a new water sharing plan to:
    • improve clarity and measurability of objectives, strategies and performance indicators
    • strengthen monitoring and evaluation requirements
    • revise environmental flow provisions to address operational issues
    • facilitate improved environmental outcomes
    • revise trade provisions to improve clarity of language and better facilitate trade
    • allow incorporation into the Water Resource Plan as required by the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
  • Bellinger River be replaced with a new water sharing plan to:
    • improve clarity of strategies, objectives and performance indicators
    • improve monitoring of outcomes
    • improve outcomes from environmental flows
    • improve outcomes for the Aboriginal community
    • improve clarity of language for stakeholders and make it consistent with terminology in other plans.
  • Great Artesian Basin be replaced with a new water sharing plan to:
    • clarify the language of the plan to ensure that current over entitlement in the recharge sources is transparent to users and allows water users to manage risk to future allocation
    • update the calculations and assumptions underlying the plan to ensure that it reflects best available current knowledge
    • 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.

The Commission also suggested merging the Great Artesian Basin plan with the Water Sharing Plan for the NSW Great Artesian Basin Shallow Groundwater Sources 2011. This is in line with advanced understanding of hydraulic connectivity between groundwater sources.

In July 2018, the NSW Government supported the Commission’s recommendation to replace the Border Rivers plan. The Government extended the Bellinger River and Great Artesian Basin plans for two years to allow time to make new plans and taking into consideration the recent Government policy changes.

All of the above reviews were informed by 19 submissions, including two that were confidential.

Key documents