Water management plan audits

Auditing water management plans to ascertain whether their provisions are being given effect to




The Commission has a role under Section 44 of the Water Management Act 2000 to audit water management plans within the first five years of each plan to ascertain whether their provisions are being given effect to.

The water management plans comprise:

  • Water sharing plans - statutory documents that establish the rules for sharing water between the environment and other water users.
  • Floodplain management plans - provide the framework for coordinating flood work development to minimise future changes to flooding behaviour, and for increasing awareness of risk to life and property from flooding.

The Commission is undertaking limited assurance audits in accordance with the following Australian standards:

Our auditors abide by the Commission’s code of ethics and conduct. Key to how we operate are the following ethical requirements: integrity, objectivity, professional competence and due care, confidentiality and professional behaviour.

The Commission’s role commenced on 1 December 2018 under changes to the Water Management Act 2000. The Commission’s audit approach is described in the audit framework.

Audit scopes

At the commencement of each group of audits, the Commission may seek feedback on its preliminary audit scopes. There is no consultation underway at present.

Final audit scopes for current audits:

Gwydir Valley floodplain management plan audit

The Commission has audited the Floodplain Management Plan for the Gwydir Valley Floodplain 2016.

The Commission considers that the provisions of the plan have not been given full effect in accordance with the Act. The audit conclusion is based on the procedures performed and the evidence obtained.

The Commission found:

  • relevant organisations generally have administrative processes (systems and procedures) in place that in general align with legislative requirements to support plan implementation
  • flood works approval were generally assessed in line with legislative requirements.

The Commission made the following recommendations to address identified gaps.

DPIE-Water to:

  • lead the monitoring and evaluation of performance indicators and to use generated data to support decision making for plan implementation
  • undertake model updates and provide the updated model information to WaterNSW and Natural Resources Access Regulator
  • write mandatory conditions to give effect to requirements in the Plan and code these in to the water licensing system to apply to new approvals
  • issue an instruction to WaterNSW to re-issue the statement of approvals
  • formalise and implement a process that documents the decision making process on implementation of amendments and status of potential amendments.

WaterNSW to:

  • provide required data to DPIE-Water to enable model updates
  • undertake cumulative impact assessment on new approvals based on updated model information
  • re-issue the statement of approvals to existing approval holders inclusive of mandatory conditions and an updated plan map.

Natural Resource Access Regulator to:

  • undertake cumulative impact assessment on new approvals based on updated model information

The full recommendations and suggested actions for the relevant agencies are available in the audit report.

Auditee responses to the audit report:

Coastal groundwater water sharing plans audit

The Commission has audited the following three coastal groundwater water sharing plans to ascertain whether the provisions of the plans are being given effect, as required under Section 44 of the Water Management Act 2000 (Act):

  • Water Sharing Plan for the South Coast Groundwater Sources 2016
  • Water Sharing Plan for the North Coast Coastal Sands Groundwater Sources 2016
  • Water Sharing Plan for the North Coast Fractured and Porous Rock Groundwater Sources 2016.

The Commission considers that the provisions of the water sharing plans have not been given full effect in accordance with the Act. The audit conclusion is based on the procedures performed and the evidence obtained.

The Commission made the following recommendations to address identified gaps.

DPIE-Water to:

  • lead the assessment and monitoring of performance indicators
  • undertake compliance assessment of extraction against sustainable limits and use this to inform available water determinations calculations
  • review mandatory conditions coding and WaterNSW and Natural Resource Access Regulator application of conditions processes to ensure minimum requirements for installation of supply work approvals are in place to protect the environment
  • formalise a process to duly consider non-mandatory amendments included in the plans.

WaterNSW to:

  • issue statements of approvals and statements of conditions to water access license and approval holders inclusive of mandatory conditions in the North Coast Fractured Rock Plan
  • obtain extraction data to ensure maximum allowable take is not exceeded
  • investigate and rectify incorrect conversions of water access licenses in the North Coast Fractured and Porous Rock Plan.

Auditee responses to the audit report:


Audits currently underway

Completed audits

The following audits have been published and are available from the Publications (Water) page.

Water management plan


The following audits have been submitted to the Minister for Water, Property and Housing, and will be published shortly on this website.

Water management plan

Upcoming audits

Floodplain management plan

Audit due

Upper Namoi Valley Floodplain 2019

2024

Border Rivers Valley Floodplain 2020

2025

Lower Namoi Valley Floodplain 2020

2025


Water sharing plan

Audit due

Hastings Unregulated and Alluvial 2019

2024

Paterson Regulated River 2019

2024

Bellinger Unregulated and Alluvial 2020

2025

Darling Alluvial Groundwater Sources 2020

2025

Gwydir Alluvial Groundwater 2020

2025

Lachlan Alluvial Groundwater 2020

2025

Macquarie-Castlereagh Groundwater 2020

2025

Murray Alluvial Groundwater Sources 2020

2025

Murrumbidgee Alluvial Groundwater 2020

2025

NSW Border Rivers Alluvial Groundwater 2020

2025

Namoi Alluvial Groundwater Sources 2020

2025

NSW Great Artesian Basin Groundwater 2020

2025

NSW Great Artesian Basin Shallow Groundwater Sources 2020

2025

NSW Murray Darling Basin Fractured Rock Groundwater 2020

2025

NSW Murray Darling Basin Porous Rock Groundwater 2020

2025

NSW Border Rivers Regulated River 2021

2027

Stay informed

The Commission will be updating this webpage as the audits progress. If you would like to receive updates on the progress of audits, you can sign up to the Mailing list.