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Engagement – November 2023

The topic of the November 2023 webinar was the 2023 water year in review.

Macintyre River.

Water Engagement Roundup

The following are questions and answers asked from the registration and during the Water Engagement Roundup webinar recorded on Wednesday 15 November, on the 2023 water year in review, with Deputy Secretary Amanda Jones.

Due to technical issues a recording of this webinar is not available.

The presentation slides are available to download below.

Presentation slides

See the presentation from the Roundup held on Wednesday, 15 November 2023. This update was on the 2023 water year in review.

Download the presentation

Questions and answers

Questions from registration

If the Commonwealth implements a buy back program, which regions will be targeted to meet the Basin Plan; Northern Basin, Southern Basin or both?

Recovery of the 450 GL of additional environmental water is a Commonwealth responsibility. It is the strong view of NSW that water recovery towards this target must come from across the Basin and should not be focussed in the Southern Basin.

Will fish screens be required to be fitted to pumps in the near future?

The Fish Friendly Water Extraction project has run an EOI process to identify pumps to be fitted with screens as part of the Northern Basin Toolkit Program.  This has targeted the Barwon-Darling and Gwydir valleys. There are complementary programs in other catchments.  Screening of pumps is voluntary.

What is the future of the Safe and Secure Water Program (SSWP)? What is the mechanism for reviewing the program guidelines and how can the industry have a say?

The NSW Government supports the SSWP. We recognise the importance of supporting local water utilities to improve water security and water quality across NSW. The program is funded until 2028. We will continue to investigate additional funding opportunities to deliver water security measures for regional NSW.  

The Grant Management Office regularly meets with the Water Directorate to discuss the administration of the SSWP.

What is the state of play with outstanding Water Resource Plans (WRPs)?

There are 9 WRPs now accredited, the most recent of which was the first surface water plan in Intersecting Streams. There are 8 more WRPs with the MDBA for assessment and 3 more that we are continuing work on. WRPs now accredited, most recently the first surface water plan accredited in Intersecting Streams. Eight WRPs with MDBA for assessment and 3 go.

Questions from webinar

Are you considering the Available Water Determinations (AWD) policy?

Yes, it is a requirement under the Border Rivers Regulated Water Sharing Plan, it has been incorporated into other inland water sharing plans that have been remade since the Border rivers plan. We will be reviewing the AWD process, especially in respect to record lowest inflows in an area.

Bathurst water supply was until 1970 supplemented with Groundwater a tunnel under the Macquarie River are you considering groundwater to supplement its supply

This option is not on the table at this time.

Will there be an opportunity to consult in relation to easing constraints along the NSW Murray, please? 

Yes, it is a requirement under the Border Rivers Regulated Water Sharing Plan. It has been incorporated into other inland water sharing plans that have been remade since the Border Rivers plan. We will be reviewing the AWD process, especially in respect to record lowest inflows in an area.

When will the Aboriginal Water Strategy be released and with who is DPE 'co-designing' this with? How are you looking to return water to Aboriginal people NSW?

The Aboriginal Water Strategy team will begin further engagement with peak groups between now and Christmas, and also have plans for further on-country and other stakeholder consultations early next year. We are planning on having the strategy further progressed by mid 2024.

Can water utilities access coastal harvestable rights for stormwater harvesting, when  water will be used for local greenspace irrigation on their own lands?

Harvestable rights dams are only able to capture rainfall runoff that flows naturally across the landscape. Water that is captured in a harvestable rights dam can be used for any purpose. Water that is diverted into a dam from stormwater harvesting is not harvestable rights water and requires relevant approvals.

Regarding the Drought Response team and lessons from 2019, will this team be releasing any lessons learnt documents? Will the Team be meeting with all Local Water Utilities (LWUs)?

Water NSW has previously published a lessons learned document. A new drought team is currently being recruited and will be in touch with all LWUs.

Will there be an update on the Western Weirs project? Wilcannia is still waiting for its weir to be upgraded?

Work is set to begin on the new weir and fishway at the end of 2024. For More information on this project visit Wilcannia Weir.

For up to date information on the Western Weirs project please see Western Weirs Program.

Is DPIE progressing policy on Managed Aquifer recharge for NSW and is their a timeline for a draft policy?

DPE Water is currently progressing a project to manage all activities that intentionally put water into a groundwater system. This includes investigating a policy framework for managed aquifer recharge which is part of Action 6.8 in the State Water Strategy. Work has commenced to investigate how managed aquifer recharge has been implemented in other states and considering how this could be applied in a NSW context. Further work on the viability of managed aquifer recharge and policy considerations will continue throughout 2024. Timeframes are yet to be finalised.

Are you planning to run these water engagement sessions again in 2024?

Yes. The Water Engagement Roundup is held every third Wednesday of each month from 11am-12pm, with a special guest and topic each month. The first Roundup will be held on Wednesday 21 February, 2024. Details and registration link will be sent out early next year and published on the Roundup webpage.