Water sharing plan reviews

Reviewing water sharing plans to identify opportunities to improve water sharing provisions and associated outcomes




The purpose of water sharing plans is to prescribe how water is managed, firstly to provide for the environment and also to support social and economic outcomes. These plans typically apply for a period of ten years.

The Commission has a statutory role under Section 43A of the Water Management Act 2000 to undertake independent reviews of water sharing plans approaching expiry and report its findings to the Minister for Water. These reviews help to identify opportunities to improve water sharing provisions and associated outcomes. The Minister considers the Commission’s report before deciding to extend or make a new water sharing plan.

Government responds to Commission's review of South Coast water sharing plans

The Government has publicly announced that water sharing plans for the NSW South Coast region will be extended for two years in order to be remade.

The Commission reviewed the following plans for the NSW South Coast region, as required under Section 43A of the Water Management Act 2000:

  • Water Sharing Plan for the Bega and Brogo Rivers Area Regulated, Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2011
  • Water Sharing Plan for the Murrah-Wallaga Area Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2010
  • Water Sharing Plan for the Towamba River Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2010

The Commission assessed the extent to which provisions in the Plans have contributed to achieving environmental, social, cultural and economic outcomes, and identified where changes to provisions are warranted.

The plan areas were significantly affected by bushfires in 2019-20 after experiencing a severe drought. It was evident from engagement during this review that the impacts of these events are far reaching and ongoing for communities and the catchments.

The Commission identified several examples of good practice and positive outcomes in this review, as well as several opportunities to improve outcomes that justify replacing the Plans (see report).

Review of inland water sharing plans

Submissions for the following inland water sharing plans have now closed:

  • North Western Unregulated and Fractured Rock Water Sources 20211
  • NSW Border Rivers Unregulated River Water Sources 2012
  • Castlereagh River Unregulated Water Sources 2011.

Two of these plans fall within the Murray-Darling Basin (NSW Border Rivers unregulated and Castlereagh River unregulated). They were amended in 2020 as part of the development of Water Resource Plans to remove alluvial water sources. These groundwater sources and associated provisions were moved to other water sharing plans that will be reviewed in the future. The Commission’s review will therefore focus on surface water sources to which the currently legislated plans apply. However, if the Commission identifies issues of relevance to the groundwater resources removed from the original water sharing plans, for example in relation to surface-groundwater connectivity, we will note this in our review and indicate it should be considered in the review of the relevant groundwater plan.

The Commission will take all submissions into consideration when preparing its advice to Government.

Plans being reviewed

The Commission is reviewing water sharing plans for the following water sources:

  • Castlereagh Unregulated Water Sources
  • Intersecting Streams Unregulated River Water Sources
  • Lower Murray Darling Unregulated Water Sources
  • Murray Unregulated Water Sources
  • Northwestern Unregulated and Fractured Rock Water Sources
  • NSW Border Rivers Unregulated Water Sources


Completed reviews

Water sharing plan
Central Coast Unregulated Review report
Coffs Harbour Area Unregulated and Alluviul Review report
Hunter Unregulated and Alluvial Review report
Lower North Coast Unregulated and Alluvial Review report
Peel Valley Regulated, Unregulated, Alluvial and Fractured Rock Review report
Water sharing plan
Barwon-Darling Unregulated and Alluvial Review report
Water sharing plan
Belinger River Area Unregulated and Alluvial Review report
NSW Border Rivers Regulated River Review report
NSW Great Artesian Basin Shallow Groundwater Review report
Water sharing plan
Lower Gwydir Groundwater Review report (all plans)
Lower Lachlan Groundwater
Lower Macquarie Groundwater
Lower Murray Groundwater
Lower Murrumbidgee Groundwater
Paterson Regulated River
Upper and Lower Namoi Groundwater
Water sharing plan
Adelong Creek Review report (all plans)
Alstoneville Plateau Groundwater
Apsley River
Castlereagh River above Binnaway
Commissioners Waters
Coopers Creek
Dorrigo Plateau Surface and Dorrigo Basalt Groundwater
Gwydir Regulated River
Hunter Regulated River
Jilliby Jilliby Creek
Kangaroo River
Karuah River
Kulnura Mangrove Mountain Groundwater
Lachlan Regulated River
Macquarie and Cudgegong Regulated Rivers
Mangrove Creek
Murrumbidgee Regulated River
NSW Murray and Lower Darling Regulated Rivers
Ourimbah Creek
Phillips Ck, Mooki River, Quirindi Ck and Warrah Creek
Rocky Ck, Cobbadah Upper Horton and Lower Horton
Stuarts Point Groundwater
Tarcutta Creek
Tenterfield Creek
Tomago TomareeStockton Groundwater
Toorumbie Creek
Upper Billabong
Upper Brunswick River
Upper Namoi and Lower Namoi Regulated River
Wandella Creek
Wybong Creek
Water sharing plan
Lower Lachlan Groundwater Review report